Labour market and earnings;Labour market and earnings

Labour force survey, seasonally-adjusted figuresSeptember 2010


About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Labour force survey, seasonally-adjusted figures
Topic: Labour market and earnings

Responsible division

Division for Labour Market and Wage Statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Concepts and definitions are in accordance with recommendations given by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and EU/Eurostat.

According to the international recommendations persons above a specified age should be classified by their attachment to the labour market in a specified, short period, either a day or a week. In the Norwegian LFS the reference period is one week, and the sample of persons are classified in relation to their situation in that reference week.

Employed persons are persons aged 15-74 who performed work for pay or profit for at least one hour in the reference week, or who were temporarily absent from work because of illness, holidays etc. Conscripts are classified as employed persons. Persons engaged by government measures to promote employment are also included if they receive wages. Persons laid off 100 per cent with a continuous duration of until three months are defined as employed, temporarily absent.

Unemployed persons are persons who were not employed in the reference week, but who had been seeking work during the preceding four weeks, and were available for work in the reference week or within the next two weeks (in 1996-2005 one should be available within two weeks following the time of interview, and until 1996 one should be able to start working in the reference week). Persons laid off 100 per cent are defined as unemployed after three continuous months of leave.

Persons in the labour force are either employed or unemployed. The remaining group of persons is labelled not in the labour force .

Man-hours worked include all actual working hours, i.e. including overtime and excluding absence from work.

Age is given in complete years at the end of the survey week.

Registered unemployed is defined as persons who are seeking income-earning work through Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service (NAV) and who are available to carry out such work. In addition, these persons must not have had any work for pay or profit in the preceding two weeks.

Participants of ordinary labour market measures are jobseekers who, during the reference period, took part in a measure aimed for ordinary jobseekers.

Standard classifications

Not relevant

Administrative information

Regional level

The whole country.

Frequency and timeliness

Frequency: Monthly figures Timeliness: Seasonally adjusted figures from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) are normally published 4 weeks after the end of the month. Due to the three-month moving average smoothing of the time series, the figures are in reality presented with a time lag of one month. See the advance release calendar for coming statistics the next 4 months.

International reporting

At the time of each publication, unemployment and employment figures are being sent to Eurostat (seasonally unadjusted, adjusted and trend figures, by age groups and sex).


The basic material (survey results from the interviewers) as well as the statistical files (on the basis of revision and estimation procedures) are stored.


Background and purpose

The main purpose of the survey is to provide data on employment and unemployment, and data on the labour force participation for the total the population.

Users and applications

The surveys give information to the Labour Market Authorities and other users about the situation on the labour market, and provide data for labour force research and forecasts, as well as for international organizations and mass media.

Equal treatment of users

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 08 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar.

For more information, see Principles for equal treatment of users in releasing statistics and analyses.

Coherence with other statistics

Statistics on unemployed persons at the Employment Offices and government measures to promote employment are compiled by the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) on the basis of the job applicant register (ARENA).

The figures on unemployment based on the LFS differ from the figures on unemployed persons registered at the Employment Offices. The LFS-figures also include unemployed persons not registered at the Employment Offices, some of the participants in government measures to promote employment and some of the disabled persons. On the other hand, some of the registered unemployed are not classified as unemployed in the LFS, on the basis of the information given on seeking and availability for work. The results from the LFS are used in the National Accounts Statistics. For statistics at regional levels (counties and municipalities), the Registerbased Employment Statistics are recommended. These statistics also give figures on employees who are immigrants. Statistics Norway also produces statistics on selected industries based on data from the establishments, containing figures on employment, compensation of employees, value of production and capital formation etc. These statistics contain more detailed information about each industry than it is possible to give from the LFS and the National Accounts Statistics.

As from 2006 persons on lay-off (until 3 months) are no longer classified as unemployed, but as employed persons (temporarily absent from work) in the LFS, while they still are classified as unemployed in the register based statistics. However, if the period of lay-off exceeds 3 months, they are classified as unemployed in the LFS as well.

The Population and Housing Censuses (each 10th year) give statistics on employment during the last 12 months, in addition to the situation in a specified reference week. As from 2001 onwards employment data based on administrative registers are used. Statistics on labour conflicts and working days lost are compiled by Statistics Norway on the basis of information supplied mostly by the labour and employers's organizations. The Surveys of Level of Living (by Statistics Norway) give information on physical working environment as well as organizational working conditions.

The LFS only includes persons who are registered as residents in the population register. Persons working in Norwaywho are not registered as permanent residents or who are planning to stay for less than six months are not included in the employment figure in the LFS. If these people lose their job it does not count as a fall in employment or a rise in unemployment. In national accounts figures (NR), employed non-residents are included in the employment figure as long as they work in an establishment in Norway. If employment decreases in this group it will count as a fall in employment in NR. Statistics Norwaypublishes separate figures for all registered non-residents once a year. See short-term immigrants .

Legal authority

The Official Statistics and Statistics Norway Act §§ 10 and 20.

EEA reference

Council Regulation (EC) nos 577/98, 1991/2002 and 2257/2003, and Commission Regulation nos 1575/2000, 1897/2000, 2104/2002, 430/2005 and 377/2008.



The total population aged 15-74 with permanent residence in Norway is covered by the LFS. The target population is based on the Central Population Register, which is the official administrative register of residents. Residents are defined as those expected to live here over 6 months. The LFS does not cover employees who commute from abroad, or people with a residence permit of less than 6 months duration. The observation unit is person.

Data sources and sampling

The main source for the LFS is quarterly, representative sample surveys.

The statistics on registered unemployment and labour market measures are based on data from Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service’s (NAV) administration system, ARENA. The register includes persons registered as unemployed, persons on ordinary labour market measures, and persons with a reduced capacity to work.

The sampling design is a county-stratified systematic sampling (with assumed random sorting) of family clusters from our Central Population Register. The sampling fraction varies somewhat between the 19 counties in Norway, giving smaller counties higher representation. The sample consists of about 12 000 family units or 24 000 persons each quarter. Each family member aged 15-74 participates in the survey, answering questions about their situation during a specified survey week. Each family participates every third months over a 2 year period. This means the survey is designed as a rotating panel, where families suppose to participate 8 times.

For more information, please cf. " Labour Force Survey 2001 (NOS C748). " (NOS C748).

Collection of data, editing and estimations

All interviews are done by telephone. As from 1 st quarter 1996 the data are collected weekly, i.e. the LFS became a continuous survey. Up to 1 st quarter 1996 (from 2 nd quarter 1988) the surveys were based on one week each month.

Information from previous interviews are used while asking about any changes in the situation, instead of the same, comprehensive data collection every time. For the coding of industry, information from some registers is also used. Demographic data are collected from the Central Population Register, and data on education are based on a register of individual data collected by Statistics Norway from the educational institutions (but questions are also asked to get more updated information).

The respondent is usually the same person as the observation unit (but proxy interviews are done if it is not possible to get in contact with the observation unit; 14-15 per cent of the interviews are done by asking near family members). Data are collected weekly, i.e. the LFS is a continuous survey (all weeks are covered). Up to 1st quarter 1996 (from 2nd quarter 1988) the survey was based on one reference week each month, and in previous years on one week each quarter. Participation in the survey is compulsory, but compulsory fines are not used.

As the data collection is made by use of computer-assisted interviews, some procedures for electronic control of the registration of answers are included in the questionnaire, for example concerning the number of working hours during the reference week. In some cases the interviewers become a "warning" by recording an answer, in other cases maximum or minimum values have been set beforehand.

The analysis unit is person. The absolute numbers from the LFS are presented in the form of estimated totals for the entire population aged 15-74. The weights or inflation factors vary, but have an average of about 195 for quarterly figures in 2017.

 The estimation method uses more demographic data and register information relevant to the connection to the labor market in order to minimize standard errors and correct more for bias in the response sample in LFS since the nonresponse is not random. New method was launched in April 2018, is also used on LFS data back to 2006 to get the most comparable time series.

The estimation method in LFS is done in several stages, and are called multiple model calibration (MMK). Initially, the main labor market status of LFS, which is employed, unemployed, outside the workforce, are modeled consistent with a multinomial logit model, explained with a number of register variables known to all in the population. The register information are registered completely unemployed, on measures and persons with disabilities at NAV, register information on disability pensioners, education level, marital status, family size and immigrant category, country of origin, gender and age, residence, and information from the A scheme and the Tax Recovery Register. The model provides predictive probabilities every month for each main labor market status in LFS for everybody in the population.

The monthly weights in LFS are calibrated using these predicted probabilities and some register variables directly[1]. This means that the weights also become consistent with the population for the number in the population register by gender, different age groups and region, as well as consistent weights for the number of full / part-time wage earners by gender and registered employed (yes/no) cross classified by immigrants in 2 groups.

Multiple model calibration provides some variance reduction, utilizing more efficiently that we have available good help information about everyone in the population from various registries that Statistics Norway has linked.

The initial weights before calibration are the ratio of the number of people in the population to the gross sample per. county (NUTS3), and takes into account that people in different counties have different probabilities of being selected to LFS sample.

For more detailed technical information about the new estimation method, please see Documents 2018/16 [https://www.ssb.no/en/arbeid-og-lonn/artikler-og-publikasjoner/new-estimation-methodology-for-the-norwegian-labour-force-survey]

[1]That the weights are consistent for a register variable, such as gender, means that the sum of the weights in the responses in the LFS equals the number of the population for each category of the register variable, such as the number of men and the number of women in the population

Seasonal adjustment

Seasonally adjusted data are calculated by using the X12-ARIMA method. The adjustment is done indirectly. The time series of employed persons and unemployed persons are seasonally adjusted separately by age over/under 24 years. The time series of man-weeks worked are seasonally adjusted separately in 3 groups: persons 24 year and less, male more then 24 years and female more then 24 years. The series of registered unemployed at the Employment Office and the series of registered unemployed at the Employment Office plus participants in labour market measures seasonally adjusted separately in 4 groups: gender cross classified by age over/under 24 years. All the seasonally adjusted subgroup series are summed up for totals afterwards. The official seasonally adjusted figures divided by age groups are broken down into gender-divided figures by utilizing monthly gender distributions calculated from trend-cycle figures from additional unofficial seasonal adjustments of the LFS.

Regression models in X-12-ARIMA pre-adjust the series, where we define the explanatory variables for holidays not falling on weekdays in the same month in LFS every year and for outliers. The seasonally adjusted time series for employed persons over 24 year and unemployed persons over 24 year are pre-adjusted if Easter is in March. Due to sensitivity to single holidays or common days off, the man-weeks worked series in addition are pre-adjusted for 2 nd Easter day, May 1 st , May 17 th , Whit Monday and Ascension Day. (We also take account of the effect when two of these days occur on the same date, for instance Ascension Day on May 17 th in 2007 and 2012 and on May 1 st in 2008).

In addition we pre-adjust man-weeks worked series for the number of common days off that falls on week days in December, and the number of normal day in the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve that falls in December/January in the LFS. Also we pre-adjust man-weeks worked series for the number of week days in June the in the LFS falls in July, due to the fact that we don’t divide reference weeks (Monday &– Sunday) between months in the LFS like it is done in the calendar. All regression variables are deseasonalized by subtracting the long term monthly average. Also the regression variables are fine tuned by a week multiplier to take account for that some months represent 4 reference weeks and other 5 reference weeks.

Only 3-months moving averages of the seasonally adjusted time series are published.

For more information, see About seasonal adjustment further down.


Not relevant

Comparability over time and space

New estimation method published in April 2018 uses more registers that will reduce nonresponse bias and sample uncertainty. This leads to a slightly lower level of employed and almost correspondingly higher levels for people outside the workforce than the previous method. The total number of unemployed changes only a little. To get the most comparable figures, the time series are revised back to 2006 in our StatBank. However, the adjustments vary slightly between groups and over time.

Breaks in the series up to 2001 are described in the publication Labour Force Survey 2001 (NOS C748).

The concepts in LFS are defined in accordance with international recommendations, cf item 4.1, to ensure comparability among the countries.

As from 2006 the LFS was revised, mainly to be in accordance with the EU-requirements based on new ILO recommendations. Some definitions and parts of the questionnaire were changed, and some new variables were added. As from 2006 age is defined as completed years at the time of the reference week, instead of completed years at the end of the year, as earlier. Moreover the lower age limit to be covered by the survey was lowered from 16 to 15, in accordance with the surveys in other countries.

These changes from 2006 led to breaks in the time-series for the LFS estimates. The revised survey gives some lower estimates for unemployment (1 000 persons as an annual average for 2006) and some higher estimates for employment (8 000 in 2006). A break in the time series also occured for the estimates of actual working hours per week and man-hours worked. For more information, please cf. http://www.ssb.no/aku_en/. Quarterly data for 2006 are published according to both the revised and the unrevised LFS, in order to improve the comparability for the figures between 2006 and 2005. The breaks in the time-series were most significant for figures divided by age groups.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

In all surveys errors may occur in connection with both the collection and the processing of data. The use of proxy interviews (asking near family members instead of the observation unit) often increase the problems of measurement. As an average the employment is underestimated because of proxy interviews.


The size of the nonresponse as a percentage of the gross sample has varied widely since the LFS began in 1972. The 20 first years were generally around 10-12 percent. In the years 1992-1997 it was particularly low, only 6-8 percent. Subsequently, the nonresponse rate gradually increased to 21 per cent in 2013. After systematic work, the nonresponse has been reduced to around 16 per cent in 2017.

Correction for total non-response is done in the estimating procedure. Partial non-response is adjusted for some variables.


The standard error for the quarterly average for the number of unemployed aged 15-74 is around 4600 in 2017. It corresponds to a coefficient of variation of 3.9 per cent. The standard error for the quarterly average for the number of employed aged 15-74 in LFS is about 8600 people in 2017. The coefficient of variation for employment figures will then be around 0.29 percent. More calculations will later be published in our StatBank.

The regression models pre-adjust some of the observations that are seasonally adjusted. There are uncertainties connected to all methods of both seasonal adjustment and pre-adjustment.



Figures are audited, due to seasonal adjustments. For more information on the audit procedures, see About seasonal adjustment.