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ESRC Data Archive Bulletin:
Northern Ireland Labour Force Survey
Text: Anthony Murphy ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna
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Northern Ireland Labour
Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre
The NI Labour Force Survey (LFS) is practically
identical to the GB LFS (Archive study number 33132). The main purpose
of the survey is to collect comparable data on the behaviour and characteristics
of the workforce at a point in time. The NI LFS collects data from about
4,000 (responding) private households annually each spring. Information
on the economic activity and status of all persons aged 16 and over resident
in each of these households, as well as information on household size and
composition, are recorded.
Responsibility for the NI LFS
The Department of Economic Development (DED) in
Belfast is responsible for the conduct of the LFS in Northern Ireland.
Fieldwork is carried out by interviewers employed by the Statistics and
Social Division of the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP). Telephone
interviewing is not carried out in Northern Ireland. OPCS processes and
tabulates the results of the NI LFS and DED is responsible for publication
of these results.
The design of the NI LFS differs
from that of the GB LFS. The sample of address for the NI LFS is obtained
from the Rating Valuation Lists, excluding commercial units and known institutions.
Three sample strata are used:
- Belfast District Council area;
- East of the Province (most of Antrim,
Down and part of Armagh);
- West of the Province (the remainder
of Northern Ireland).
Prior to 1987 the primary sampling
units were wards selected from each of the three strata. Addresses were
randomly selected within the chosen wards. Since 1987, the use of wards
as primary sampling units has been dropped. Instead addresses are randomly
selected within each of the three strata. This change improved the sample
Other Differences in Sample Design
Unlike Great Britain there is no
quarterly LFS in Northern Ireland and at present there are no plans to
introduce one. Since March 1992, the GB quarterly LFS
has been enhanced. The quarterly sample of households is now equal in size
to the what was called the "spring boost" sample. Unlike the
LFS or enhanced LFS in GB, no sample rotation is built into the NI LFS.
and Response Rates
The sample of addresses from the
Rating Valuation Lists is approximately one per cent
of domestic properties. However only private household
addresses are eligible for inclusion in the sample and some households
refuse to respond. Table 1 sets out some details of the
NI LFS sample.
The Northern Ireland LFS Sample
|No. of Household Returns
(Both full and partial)
|No. of Adults (Aged 16 or Older)
Content of the NI LFS
The content of the NI LFS is basically
the same as that of GB LFS. Some minor differences are as follows:
- No questions
on ethnic background are asked in NI;
- The government training and employment
schemes are different in NI;
- There is a single
question on shiftwork in the NI LFS.
A religion trailer
questionnaire was included in the NI LFS for 1984 to 1986 and since 1990,
a religion trailer is permanently included in the NI LFS. The Policy Planning
and Research Unit of the DFP in Belfast recently published a report on
religion and economic activity based on the 1990 NI
of Results from the NI LFS
The DED in Belfast produce short
reports on each year's LFS. These appear as Statistic Notices. Some limited
results for Northern Ireland are included in the annual
LFS article in Employment Gazette and in the
annual LFS publication produced by OPCS. Employment Gazette features
regular articles based on the LFS but the coverage of Northern Ireland
tends to be very limited. Regional Trends contains many tables based
on LFS data for all regions of the UK including Northern Ireland.
Access to NI LFS Data
The NI LFS data are included in
the UK LFS data held by the ESRC Data Archive. At present the Data Archive
holds eleven years LFS data (1975,1977,1979,1981 and 1983 to 1990). Local
authority district codes are not included in UK LFS data. The Data Archive
does not hold any religion trailer data.
Chamberlain, E. et al. (1991) "Enhancement
of the Labour Force Survey in Great Britain", Statistical
News, 95, Winter 1991. Return to Contents
Penrice, G. (1989) Review of Northern Ireland Economic
Statistics, mimeo, Department of Finance and Personnel, Belfast.