Due to a change in the micro-census labour force survey some values such as unemployment rates in the statistics regularly published by EUROSTAT will change as of 1 July. The following text describes these changes in detail. Actual effects will become apparent from July.
The Regulation (EU) 2019/1700 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 October 2019 establishing a common framework for European statistics relating to persons and households came into effect as of 1 January 2021. This regulation establishing a common framework for statistics covers amongst others changes in the micro-census labour force survey including new definitions of employment status.
The results relating to employment and unemployment will hence change more or less reflecting the structure of the respective regional labour market.
Persons in gainful employment are individuals between 15 and 89 years who worked at least one hour for remuneration or profit in the reference week, but also persons who have a job but temporarily did not work for a limited time for defined reasons.
The reasons for being absent from the workplace are also redefined: holiday, compensatory time-off, partial retirement, other working hours arrangements, illness, occupational training or further education as well as maternity/paternity leave are the reasons determining gainful employment without time restrictions. Persons who did not work during the reference week for any other reason are to be counted as employed only if such absence was less than three months. The continued payment of remuneration is no longer relevant for this definition.
Until 2020 persons who did not work in the reference week due to illness, maternity leave and partial retirement were classified as employed. However, persons absent from work due to numerous other reasons for three months or less respectively for longer than three months, and who received continued remuneration of over 50%, were also considered as employed.
Another change in the definition of employed persons relates to individuals who did not work during the reference week due to seasonal reasons, but who regularly perform tasks for the company during the off-season period. From 2021 they will be considered as in gainful employment. Until 2020 seasonal workers were not in gainful employment during the off-season period.
Persons exclusively producing for their own use will no longer be considered gainfully employed as of 2021.
Persons between 15 and 74 are classified as unemployed if they do not meet the criteria specified for employment, and are hence not in gainful employment, but are available to start work within two weeks and are actively seeking employment or have already found work. The EU social statistics regulation now stipulates that from 2021 individuals who are not actively seeking employment as they have been given re-employment commitments, and who will restart working within three months and are available within two weeks are considered unemployed. Under the “old” international definition up to 2020 these individuals were allocated to the hidden reserve of non-employed, i.e. inactive, persons.
The respondents will not be directly asked about their labour market status but rather about aspects relevant to the labour market in a particular reference week, and will then be classified in line with a flow chart as employed, unemployed or inactive. Individuals below 15 and over 89 years always count as inactive persons.
Since Covid-19 induced impacts on employment and unemployment can additionally be currently observed, methodological effects cannot be quantified at this point.
The first quarterly results affected by these changes (1st quarter 2021) are expected to be published on the EUROSTAT website on 15 July 2021. This publication will include in addition to employed, unemployed and inactive persons also the employment rate, unemployment rate and labour force participation rate, all calculated in line with the new method.
EUROSTAT will publish the first current monthly unemployment rate based on this new method on 1 July 2021. The unemployment rates for the years 2009 to 2020 will be revised and become available in the EUROSTAT database in spring 2022.
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