Labour Force Survey (LFS)

What does the survey entail?


To provide information about the Dutch population and the labour market. This involves relating characteristics of individuals to their position in the labour market..

Target population

People aged 15 to 89 years residing in the Netherlands, with the exception of persons living in institutions and homes (institutional population). 

Statistical unit

Persons and households. 

First year of survey 

The Labour Force Survey was first conducted in 1987. 


This is an ongoing survey, with quarterly figures on a fixed set of labour market variables. In addition, annual estimates are published for these variables, to be extended with an additional set of labour market variables. Monthly figures on the unemployed and employed labour force are also made available, broken down by sex and age (with three different age groups). 

Publication strategy

All figures (monthly, quarterly and annual) are final figures. 

How is the survey conducted?

Survey type

Sample survey.

Observation method 

The Dutch LFS is a so-called rotating panel survey consisting of five waves. It has produced estimates from reporting year 2003 onwards. As of Q4 2012, all selected respondents are initially requested to participate via the internet. Part of the non-response group is subsequently re-approached personally or by telephone. Up to 2021, the four follow-up surveys were conducted by telephone. As of 2021, respondents are initially being approached for participation through the internet as well. Those who do not respond will be approached by telephone. A more detailed description of the observation method can be found in the comprehensive survey description of the LFS. The entire LFS questionnaire is also available electronically (in Dutch only). 


Persons aged 14 to 89 years not belonging to the institutional population. 

Sample size

In 2021, altogether 164 thousand persons were approached to participate in the first online LFS survey wave. 

Error detection and correction methods 

First, the response data receive internal consistency checks. By weighting, the response is corrected for under- and over-representation of certain groups in the response. 


The weighting of observations takes place in two steps. In the first step, inclusion weights are assigned to the observations. These starting weights are calculated to correct for uneven inclusion probabilities that follow from the applied sampling method. In the second step, final weights are determined. This step reduces bias due to non-response. Data on gender, age, migration background, region, registration as a jobseeker with UWV (GWU) and income are used for this purpose. Each wave is weighted separately and the quarterly and annual figures are an average of the estimates per wave. The comprehensive LFS survey description contains more details on weighting, sample design and fieldwork for the LFS. 

Quality of the results


The LFS survey results carry a margin of inaccuracy. As the sample design is quite complex, estimating 95% confidence margins is not straightforward. A table of estimated margins for inflated numbers is included in the comprehensive description of the survey ( in dutch only).

Due to the high relative imprecision, data below a certain value are not published. These numbers are replaced in the tables by a dot (.). The lower limit for the quarterly figures is basically set at rounded 30 thousand in the total column. Subdivisions, percentages or averages calculated over groups of 30 thousand or more are shown. For annual figures, the lower limit is set at 15 thousand in the total column. Subdivisions, percentages or averages calculated over groups of 15 thousand persons or more are shown.

Sequential comparability

Due to changes in the survey design and questionnaire of the LFS in 2021, the figures are not comparable with previous years. Only the monthly figures on the employed and unemployed labour force have been recalculated from 2003 onwards. As of 2015, figures on the working-age population according to the ILO definition are central to reporting and StatLine publications. Moreover, there has been a revision of outcomes due to changes in the data collection (including the introduction of internet data collection). Key figures on labour force participation according to the ILO definition have been available quarterly since 2015 and have been backdated to reporting year 2003. These include figures on the employed labour force by job position and working hours, as well as the (unemployed and employed) labour force by sex, age, migration background, position in the household, level of education and region. The comprehensive survey description of the LFS discusses the causes of trend breaks in more detail. 

Quality strategy

Eurostat - quality-reporting