"View frequencies, conduct simple online tabulations, produce graphs..."
Whilst there is a wealth of data on the labour market, a number of studies are regarded as 'key' in the UK – either through their subject/geographical coverage, their use of standard measures, their longevity, their usage among the research community or because they are used to create 'official' figures.
The key individual-level surveys on the labour market are the Labour Force Surveys (LFS) and related dataset, the Annual Population Survey (APS). These are cross-sectional repeated survey data. Other datasets may be of relevance depending on the nature of the research question. For example, the Health Survey for England (HSE) will be useful for researching relationships between health and labour market variables. The Family Resources Survey (FRS) contains information about income, benefits and assets as well as a range of labour market variables.
The British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) is a key resource in this field for researchers who wish to study individual change over time using panel data.
The majority of the data described are known as 'raw', 'primary' or 'source' data in the sense that they represent information that has been collected 'first-hand'; they are original data sources which may then be used for 'secondary' analysis by researchers not involved in the data collection process. The majority of these data are anonymised because they describe the attitudes, behaviour, circumstances and personal details of the individuals being studied. These types of data are heavily used by the academic and government research communities.
The UK Data Service provides access to the following primary data sources:
|'Brain Drain' Debate in the United Kingdom, c.1950-1970||1950-1970 (qualitative)
Canada, UK and United States
|British Election Study Six-Wave Panel Survey, 2005-2009||Electors resident in Great Britain during 2005-2009||employment
|British Household Panel Survey (BHPS)||UK
|British Social Attitudes Survey||GB
Annually from 1983 (except in 1988 and 1992)
|Changing Organisational Forms and the Re-shaping of Work : Case Study Interviews, 1999-2002||1999-2002 (qualitative)
England and Scotland
public and private sector management
|Employees' Awareness, Knowledge and Exercise of Employment Rights Survey, 2005||People of working age who were employees or had been employees in the previous two years and living in private households in Great Britain||economic activity
|Eurostat New Cronos||1960-continuing
monthly, quarterly, annual country level data (data availability depends on series and country selected)
|Family Resources Survey||GB
Annually from 1992
travel to work
|IMF World Economic Outlook||1980-continuing
Annual country level data
|Labour Force Survey||
training at work
|Life Opportunities Survey||UK
Longitudinal since 2009
|Market for Migrant Domestic and Sex Workers, 2002-2006||2002-2006 (qualitative)
Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Spain, Thailand, UK
|OECD Main Economic Indicators||1955-continuing
monthly, quarterly and annual country level data (data can be patchy)
|Qualitative Investigation of the Lives and Labour Market Experiences of People with Multiple Problems and Needs, 2001-2002||2001-2002 (qualitative)
|Small Firms and their Employees, 2003-2006||Managers and employees in small firms based in the East and West Midlands, surveyed during 2005-2006||employment
industrial relations procedures
|Socio-technical Systems and Call Centres : a Case Study Investigation, 1999-2000||1999-2000 (qualitative)
|UNIDO Industrial Statistics Databases||1963-continuing
annual country level data
wages and salaries
all broken down by industry (available at ISIC code Level 2, 3, and 4)
|United Kingdom Time Use Survey||UK
travel to work
|Workplace Employment Relations Survey: Time-Series Dataset, 1980-2004||
|World Development Indicators||1960-continuing
annual country level data
wage and salary
Other research communities are less interested in these primary, and predominantly individual-level, data and are more likely to be consumers of information that has been published at the aggregate-level (e.g. tables of data where results are aggregated to health authority level, or region or country). Whilst we hold some aggregate-level data of interest to labour market researchers – the cross-national Eurostat for example and the World Bank databases – the UK Data Service is only one of many online resources that provide access to published data based on the labour market theme.
Other key data publishers
Government and voluntary sector
Academic centres and services
The UK Data Service has a faceted search application called Discover where you can search and browse our data collections, support guides, case studies, and related publications.
Browsing for labour market data
Use Discover to retrieve a list of labour-market-related studies. This will provide a list of studies with links to the catalogue records and related materials.
Searching for labour market data
Use Discover to retrieve a list of labour-market-related studies by searching the catalogue using a free-text search on a labour-related term. You can refine your search by Country, Kind of data, Spatial unit, Observation unit, Depositor or Date. This will provide a list of studies with links to the catalogue records and related materials.
Searching using the UK Data Archive's HASSET thesaurus
Use the UK Data Archive Humanities and Social Science Electronic Thesaurus (HASSET) to search for keywords and explore their narrower, broader or related terms, for example:
Looking at variables on Labour Market Data
Researchers can retrieve a list of labour market-related studies by using the UK Data Service Variable and Question Bank search. This searches on variable labels and value labels within a dataset.
Downloading and ordering labour market data
Registered users can download or order most data for offline analysis. Most survey data are available to download in standard formats, for example, SPSS, Stata and tab-delimited. Further information on how to access and download data is available from our how to access page.
Using the following online data analysis tools researchers can view frequencies, conduct simple online tabulations and produce graphs and subsets for a selection of labour market related data. View the following movie tutorials to show how to analyse labour market data using these tools.
Use the Nesstar analysis software to select, reformat and download union representation by industry using the Labour Force Survey.
Use the Beyond 20/20 analysis software to select, reformat and download unemployment data from the World Bank World Development Indicators for a selection of countries from 1991-2010.
ESDS Qualidata Online
Use ESDS Qualidata Online to view interviews and related materials from four of our classic sociology collections.
The UK Data Service has a library of case studies demonstrating how our data have been used. You can identify uses according to topic, data type and educational course.
Use Discover to view our case studies on Employment and labour.This will provide a list with links to case studies and other related materials
See the following for some ideas for research using labour market data:
The labour market impacts on a range of social and economic aspects of life in the UK and is well studied for policy purposes, and well represented in surveys conducted by and for policy makers. The Labour Force Survey contains the widest range of employment and training questions.
The global economic crisis has had an effect on everyone but the consequences have varied from country to country. In many European countries we have seen sovereign debt crises, high unemployment rates and severe austerity cuts which have led to protests in Greece, Spain and Portugal.
The UK Data Service holds a variety of studies that deal with the labour market and have a qualitative element. This includes projects based entirely upon qualitative methods as well as collections that use a mixed methods approach. In addition some of the older ‘classic’ studies conducted in the 1970s and 1980s investigated work and labour relations.
Longitudinal studies are especially useful for analysing labour market trajectories because of their repeated observation design. They show how people move (or don’t move) between different employment statuses through their working lives.
The UK Data Service helps to support users of data by providing:
Other resources on labour market data
Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion
Centre for Economic Performance
Department for Business Innovation and Skills
Department for Work and Pensions - Research and statistics
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Low Pay Commission
Skills Development Scotland's Labour Market Research Team Research Online
Survey Question Bank - Economic activity
Survey Question Bank - Working conditions
The Institute for Employment Studies
The Migration Observatory - The Labour Market Effects of Immigration
UK Commission for Employment and Skills
Warwick Institute for Employment Research
Welsh Economy and Labour Market Evaluation and Research Centre (WELMERC)