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Labour Force Sample Survey

This Regulation establishes a harmonised method for collecting national statistics on the situation of the active European population. Member States are responsible for collecting the data in order to send them to the Commission.


Council Regulation (EC) No 577/98 of 9 March 1998 on the organisation of a labour force sample survey in the Community [See amending acts].


The development of European employment policy is based on comparable statistical information obtained in the Member States.

Each year European Union (EU) Member States conduct sample surveys of the labour forces in their population and the levels of under-employment *. The results of the statistical surveys are sent to the European Commission (Eurostat).

Data collection

The surveys are carried out using a sample of private households * or of persons residing in the country at the time of the survey. If possible, the survey is supplemented by information on persons living in collective households *.

Other collection means may be used if they produce information of an equivalent quality (such as the use of administrative records).

The Member States may make it compulsory to reply to the survey.

Representativeness of the information

Margins of error are planned in for the calculation of statistical data in Member States with a population of more than one million inhabitants. In addition, the weighting factors of results are calculated taking into account the characteristics of the population (age, sex, region, etc.).

Lastly, the methods of statistical imputation may be applied in cases where non-response to certain questions results in missing data.

Elements of the survey

Member States must provide Eurostat with whatever information is required concerning the organisation of the survey and its methodology (criteria adopted for the design and size of the sample). This information shall not include any direct identifiers of the person surveyed.

The survey must relate, in particular, to the following characteristics:

  • the characteristics of the person surveyed (sex, year of birth, marital status, etc.);
  • their principal and/or secondary activity (professional status, salary, country of employment, permanence of employment and the reasons, etc.);
  • their working time and their atypical hours of work;
  • their possible situation of underemployment;
  • their search for employment (type of employment sought, duration of search, method, etc.);
  • their possibilities for education and training;
  • their previous work experience;
  • their situation one year before the survey.

The Commission may decide to collect information on supplementary aspects not provided for in this Regulation.


Regulation 577/98 repeals Regulation (EEC) No 3711/91.

Key terms used in the act
  • Private household: persons living in the same dwelling, namely family members, but also specifically long-term guests, lodgers and household staff.
  • Collective household: persons living in a non-institutional collective dwelling (such as boarding schools, dormitories of educational establishments, etc.) occupied by more than five persons who do not share household expenses.
  • Underemployment: the situation of persons working involuntarily less than the normal working time (for example, part-time workers) and those who are able to increase their hours of work, such as by taking on an additional job.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EC) No 577/98



L 77, 14.3.1998

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1991/2002



OJ L 308, 9.11.2002

Regulation (EC) No 2104/2002



OJ L 324, 29.11.2002

Regulation (EC) No 2257/2003



OJ L 336, 23.12.2003

Regulation (EC) No 1372/2007



OJ L 315, 3.12.2007

Regulation (EC) No 596/2009



OJ L 188, 18.7.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 577/98 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Methods of statistical calculations

Commission Regulation (EC) No 377/2008 of 25 April 2008 implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 577/98 on the organisation of a labour force sample survey in the Community as regards the codification to be used for data transmission from 2009 onwards, the use of a sub-sample for the collection of data on structural variables and the definition of the reference quarters (Text with EEA relevance).

Last updated: 31.05.2011
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