Sources & Methods


The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is an ongoing survey conducted among private households for the purpose of gathering information about the labour force under European Framework Regulation (EC) No. 577/1998.  Its main objective is that of dividing the 15+ year old population into three mutually exclusive groups: employed, unemployed, and inactive, and hence provides descriptive information on each of these groups.

Methodological description of survey

The Labour Force Survey is an enquiry which is carried out using a random sample of 3,200 private households per quarter.  The objective is to have a continuous assessment of labour market trends given that reference weeks are evenly spread throughout the 13 weeks of every quarter.

The selection of participant households is conducted on a random basis out of all private households in the Maltese Islands.  All families living in private households are eligible for selection.

The LFS is a panel survey.  The panel rotation is 2-(2)-2 with 800 households chosen to participate for the first time (first panel) being chosen for the second wave which is carried out in the following quarter.  These households are out of the LFS  for the two following quarters and then reintroduced one year after the first survey and one year and a quarter after the first survey.  A household participating for the first time in one quarter is therefore contacted for another three times.

The collection modes for LFS are mainly PAPI and CATI.  For the first panel, the survey can either be carried out through personal visits or by telephone; although personal visits are preferred.  However, in the subsequent panels most of the surveys are carried out by telephone.

The data collected is being partly financed by a grant provided by the European Commission.

Accuracy and reliability of data

Information on the accuracy and reliability of data can be viewed in a dedicated quality report available on the NSO’s metadata website. 

Timeliness and punctuality of data

At a national level, the Labour Market Statistics Unit publishes a quarterly LFS news release on the NSO’s website as scheduled in the Advance Release C​alendar, which includes data on the same quarter of the previous year.

LFS datasets for a particular reference quarter are submitted to Eurostat not later than 12 weeks after the end of data collection.  Data has always been submitted within the stipulated deadlines. 

Accessibility and clarity of data

On an annual basis another news release entitled ‘Key Indicators on the Labour Market’ is produced and disseminated.  This news release covers various topics concerning the labour market for a number of years.

A publication on LFS was produced, and made available on the NSO website, up to reference year 2007.  In 2016, data from LFS was also used to publish the ‘Shift Employment in Malta 2015’ publication, presenting a detailed demographic and economic picture of shift workers in Malta and their evolving working patterns over the last five years.  In addition, information concerning the annual ad hoc module which is collected in the LFS is also disseminated annually.

Every year, a quality report is submitted to Eurostat to highlight methodological issues involved in the survey.  A similar report is also produced at a national level and disseminated on the NSO’s metadata website. 

Coherence and comparability/consistency of data

Quarterly and annual LFS data are coherent and reconcilable.  Data is also fully comparable with other European Union Member States given that the same regulations are followed.

LFS data has always been collected in a consistent manner and can be considered to be comparable or reconcilable over time.  For main indicators, results at a national level are comparable from 2005 onwards.

At the concept level, comparability may be affected by changes in classification.  In LFS 2012, coding of the occupations was done with ISCO 88 and converted to ISCO 08.  ISCO 08 was adopted in 2012.  The economic activity classification was also changed and in 2008 there was the shift from NACE Rev 1.1 to NACE Rev 2.  At measurement level, comparability may be affected by a change in the sampling frame following the Census of Population and Housing 2011.  Previously, the Census 2005 was used as a sampling frame.

There is no coherence with administrative sources of unemployment due to differences in definitions. 


Other Documents Date
Labour Force Questionnaire 2024
Monthly Unemployment Rate Methodology​​ N/A
Labour Force Survey​ - 2021 methodological changes​ 2021
Malta Skills Survey 2022
Inflation Calculator News releases calendar Request for Information NACE Code queries
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