Labour market

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Key data

Whilst there is a wealth of data on the labour market, a number of studies are regarded as 'key' – 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:

Study name Coverage Topics
'Brain Drain' Debate in the United Kingdom, c.1950-1970 1950-1970 (qualitative)
Canada, UK and United States
scientific migration
popular science
engineering
cold war
British Election Study Six-Wave Panel Survey, 2005-2009 Electors resident in Great Britain during 2005-2009 employment
income
occupational status
socio-economic status
British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) 1991-2009 (longitudinal)
UK
employment status
income
job satisfaction
employment history
industry/occupation
British Social Attitudes Survey Annually from 1983 (except in 1988 and 1992)
Britain

ILO measures
hours worked
employment workplace
economic policies
education

Census aggregate data 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001, 2011: England, Wales, and Scotland
1991, 2001, 2011: Northern Ireland
Data available at many geographical levels (e.g. county, district, ward, output area). Availability of topics and categories vary by census, country and geographical level

economic activity
employment
socio-economic group
industry of employment
occupation
hours worked
travel to work
national statistics socio-economic classification (NS-SeC)

Census flow data 1981-2001 England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland
Data available from Special Migration Statistics (SMS), Special Workplace Statistics (SWS) and Special Travel Statistics (STS for Scotland only) at different spatial scales
For 2001:
Migration by economic activity and sex
Migration of moving groups by economic activity and sex
Migration of moving groups by NS-SEC of group reference person
Commuting by industry by sex
Commuting by NS-SEC by sex
Commuting by employment status by sex
Census microdata 1991 and 2001
UK

economic activity
employment
hours worked
NS-SeC socio-economic classification

Changing Organisational Forms and the Re-shaping of Work : Case Study Interviews, 1999-2002 1999-2002 (qualitative)
England and Scotland
inter-organisational relations
sub-contracting
trade unions
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
employment
income
unemployed
wages
Family Resources Survey Annually from 1992
Britain
ILO measures
earnings/savings
pensions
travel to work
health
income/assets
benefits
IMF World Economic Outlook 1980-continuing
Annual country level data
unemployment rate
employment
Labour Force Survey

1975-1983 biennial Annually from 1984
Quarterly from 1992
UK

ILO measures
training at work
work history
hours worked
earnings (1992+)
education
health/disability
Life Opportunities Survey Longitudinal since 2009
UK
ILO measures
work history
hours worked
income
disabilities
care work
benefits
Market for Migrant Domestic and Sex Workers, 2002-2006 2002-2006 (qualitative)
Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Spain, Thailand, UK
employment
domestic workers
gender
sexuality
sex workers
OECD Employment and Labour Market Statistics 1950-continuing
annual country level data
earnings
labour market
job tenure
employees
unemployment
employment status
unpaid workers
OECD Main Economic Indicators 1955-continuing
monthly, quarterly and annual country level data (data can be patchy)
earnings
labour costs
labour productivity
employees
unemployment
employment status
vacancies
Qualitative Investigation of the Lives and Labour Market Experiences of People with Multiple Problems and Needs, 2001-2002 2001-2002 (qualitative)
England
education
employment
statutory agencies
training
unemployement
unpaid workers
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
labour force
recruitment
wages policy
workplace
Socio-technical Systems and Call Centres : a Case Study Investigation, 1999-2000 1999-2000 (qualitative)
Scotland
recruitment
training
Understanding Society 2009-2010 (longitudinal)
UK
employment status
income
job satisfaction
employment
industry/occupation classification
UNESCO Cultural Employment Statistics 2009 onwards, annual data, multi country

cultural employment
employment in visual arts
number of performers, number of artists
employment in crafts
cultural labour force
women/men in cultural employment

UNIDO Industrial Statistics Databases 1963-continuing
annual country level data
establishments
employees
wages and salaries
female employees
all broken down by industry (available at ISIC code Level 2, 3, and 4)
United Kingdom Time Use Survey 2000
UK
ILO measures
earnings
hours worked
travel to work
work/life balance
childcare
volunteering/caring
Workplace Employment Relations Survey: Time-Series Dataset, 1980-2004

1980-2004
All British workplaces and employees in those workplaces with at least 10 or at least 25 employees, except for those in the following Standard Industrial Classification (1992) divisions: A; B; C; P; and, Q.

employment
labour force
part-time employment
shift work
wages
women's employment
World Development Indicators 1960-continuing
annual country level data
child employment
employees
employers
population ratio
unemployment
part-time work
vulnerable employment
armed forces
youth
tax/contributions
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

UK Statistics Authority

Government and voluntary sector

Academic centres and services

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