Unemployment and labour force, monthly figures

What does the survey entail?


Description by month of the labour force in the Netherlands, with the unemployed labour force as the central component.

Target population

Persons aged 15 to 74 years residing in the Netherlands, with the exception of persons living in institutions and homes (institutional population).

Statistical unit


First year of survey

Monthly figures on the labour force were published for the first time in July 2010. Figures have been available from the reporting month January 2003 onwards.



Publication strategy

Monthly figures on the labour force broken down by sex and age (15 to 24 years, 25 to 44 years, 45 to 74 years) are available approximately three weeks after the month under review. They are always final and serve as a basis for the quarterly and annual labour force figures, which are averages of the separate monthly figures.

How is the survey conducted?

Type of survey

Monthly labour force figures are compiled using data from a sample survey, the Labour Force Survey (in Dutch: Enquête Beroepsbevolking, EBB).

Observation method

The Dutch LFS is a so-called rotating panel survey. This rotating panel design was introduced in Q4 1999. The first design modification was implemented in 2010. Previously, the respondents were all visited at home by an interviewer from Statistics Netherlands (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing, CAPI). From 2010, if the telephone number (landline) is known, they are contacted by telephone (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing, CATI). If not, they are approached through CAPI. After that they are contacted by phone four more times. Another design change was implemented with effect from Q4 2012. From then on, all respondents are initially approached via the internet (Computer Assisted Web Interviewing, CAWI). Some of the respondents who do not respond via CAWI are then re-approached via CAPI or CATI. In 2021, the survey setup changed from a household survey to a people survey. Those who were re-approached also became able to complete the survey online. The questionnaire was also updated in 2021. The entire LFS questionnaire is available electronically (in Dutch) here.


Persons aged 15 to 74 years, excluding institutional residents.

Sample size

Every month, almost 20 thousand people in the Netherlands participate in a Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Error detection and correction methods

The respondents’ data receive consistency checks. By means of a weighting method, over- and underrepresentation of certain groups in the response is corrected. Through a structural time series model, sample information, including data observed in previous periods, is used efficiently.


The weighting of the observations takes place in two steps. In the first step, inclusion weights are assigned to the observations. These inclusion weights are calculated so that they can correct for uneven inclusion probabilities that follow from the applied sampling method. In the second step, final weights are determined. With this step the bias caused by non-response is reduced. Data on sex, age, migration background and region are used for this purpose. In addition, registration data of jobseekers at the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) and income data are used. For the monthly figures all polls are weighted separately, which makes it possible to compute five separate series for the labour force. These series serve as input for the structural time series model.

Time series model

The size of the unemployed and the employed labour force in a certain month is connected to the size of the unemployed and employed labour force in previous months. It therefore makes sense to improve the precision of the monthly estimates by using sample information from previous periods. This information is also used to determine the monthly seasonal effects. With this the monthly developments in unemployment can also be assessed without seasonal effects. The available data from the five survey waves is integrated by the time series model into one set of estimations for the labour force, broken down by age and sex. A detailed description of the structural time series model for the monthly labour force figures can be found inthis publication.

Quality of the results


The LFS survey results carry a margin of inaccuracy. The estimated standard errors in the monthly labour force figures are included in this publication.

Sequential comparability

Monthly figures on the labour force are available from reporting month January 2003 onwards. These figures were published for the first time in July 2010. Previously, monthly moving three-month averages were used. These figures became available from the reporting period December 2000-February 2001 onwards. Differences between the two methods are described in the document‘Estimating monthly labour force figures (Dutch only)’. In January 2022, the figures from 2003 to 2021 inclusive were revised.

Quality strategy

During the interview, answers are entered into a computer; inconsistencies in the answers will be spotted immediately at that time.