Annex A: About the Annual Population Survey
- What is the APS and what is it used for?
The Annual Population Survey ( APS) combines results from the Labour Force Survey ( LFS) and the English, Welsh and Scottish Labour Force Survey boosts. The boosts increase the sample size which means the APS can provide more robust labour market estimates for local areas compared to the main LFS. Thus the APS is the primary source for information on local labour markets providing headline estimates on employment, unemployment and economic inactivity. The APS is the largest annual household survey in Scotland and provides a wealth of information about individuals' personal circumstances and their work.
Information from the APS is used by the Scottish Government to inform government targets and policies. Some of the many external users of the APS include Local authorities, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Higher & Further Education sector. Uses include monitoring targets, statistical analysis, policy development and briefing.
- National Performance Framework
The APS is the source of information for 2 of the Scottish Government's Purpose targets and 2 of the 50 national indicators in the Government's National Performance Framework. Information on progress against these targets and national indicators can be found on the following webpage:
The APS is also used as a source for two of the Key Performance Indicators for Developing the Young Workforce which were developed based on recommendations from the Wood Commission.
- Participation - To close the gap with the top five OECD economies by 2017
- Cohesion - To narrow the gap in participation between Scotland's best and worst performing regions by 2017.
- Improve the skill profile of the population - Reduce number of working age people with severe literacy and numeracy problems
- Reduce underemployment - To decrease the number of underemployed workers in Scotland (this indicator was added as part of an update to the National Performance Framework )
KPI's for Developing the Young Workforce
- KPI 1 - Be one of the top five performing countries in the EU for youth unemployment by reducing the relative ratio of youth unemployment to 25-64 unemployment to the level of the fifth best country in the EU by 2021.
- KPI10 - Increase the employment rate for disabled young people to the population average by 2021
- What topics are available?
A wide range of topics are included in the survey:
- Economic Activity (present or past)
- Employment in main job and second jobs
- Working conditions (hours, work pattern etc.)
- Reasons why people are not in the labour force
- Geographical mobility
- Education and training
- Individual and household characteristics
- How and when is the survey conducted?
The Office for National Statistics ( ONS) carries out the LFS and associated boosts.
The APS datasets are based on calendar quarters and are produced quarterly on a rolling annual basis (covering 12 months of data). So the four annual APS datasets produced by ONS each year cover the periods January to December, April to March, July to June and October to September.
The APS data use the existing continuous quarterly LFS in addition to annual enhancements. In the quarterly LFS, each person in a selected household is interviewed five times at 13-week intervals. In any three-month period, about a fifth of the sample are being interviewed for the first time, another fifth are receiving their second interview and so on, with 20% being interviewed for the fifth and final time. Each of these roughly equal groups is termed a wave i.e. 'wave 1' refers to those people having their first interview.
- Who takes part in the survey?
The LFS surveys individuals living at private households in the UK and is designed to be representative of the national population.
The Scottish Government funds the boost to the LFS sample in Scotland, taking the sample size from approximately 5,000 households each year to 17,000 households.
The target sample size in each local authority is 675 economically active adults except for Clackmannanshire (250); Dumfries and Galloway (700); East Dunbartonshire (700); East Lothian (600); East Renfrewshire (600); Inverclyde (600); Midlothian (600); Moray (600); Na h-Eileanan Siar, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands (600); Stirling (600) and West Dunbartonshire (700).
- Revision of estimates
Estimates for the APS for Jan-Dec 2012 to Jan-Dec 2015 were reweighted based on latest mid-year estimates in June 2016. Consequently, this has had some impact on historical estimates and the estimates for these years may differ from previously published results. Further reweighting of the survey will occur annually, although not all years will be reweighted.
- How reliable are the results?
As survey results, these are subject to a degree of error and implied changes between years which may not be significant and instead be within a given error range. Confidence limits for estimates should be taken into account, especially for changes over time. Annex B provides more information and confidence limits are included in the web tables for each indicator.
- Interaction of labour market statistics
The three main labour market indicators - employment, unemployment and economic inactivity - are all inter-related. Increases in employment rates are likely to result in corresponding decreases in either or both unemployment and economic inactivity rates (as an increase in employment means there should be less unemployed or inactive people). However, more subtle interactions exist. It is possible for a shift in people between employment and inactivity to change the unemployment rate, even though there has been no change in the actual number of people unemployed. This is because the unemployment rate is based against the economically active population (those in employment plus those unemployed) as opposed to the total relevant population. The same effect does not occur for employment and inactivity rates because they are based against the total relevant population.
- Residence, Households and Workplace based statistics
The information and data presented in this publication is predominantly based on residence based statistics - that is, the statistics relate to the characteristics of residents of a geographical area. These statistics do not give information about the number of jobs or people employed within a local area as this will be different to the number of employed people living within the same area (due to people commuting in and out of the area for work). This is covered briefly in the section on Commuting patterns in the Employment chapter.
Workplace based statistics are available from the APS. These are freely available from Nomis at:
Employer surveys, such as the Business Register Employment Survey ( BRES) and Workforce Jobs are workplace based, relating to an employer's specific business locations. These surveys do not gather any corresponding residence based data (unlike the APS).
Household surveys differ from individual surveys in that the main unit of measure is the household. These surveys can be used to gather information about the different household characteristics within the country, especially in regards to working and workless households. This report does not publish household estimates. These are available from Nomis at:
- Hours and Earnings statistics
The APS records self-reported hours and earnings data (including usual and actual hours worked, usual and actual pay, gross and net income, overtime and bonuses). However, the data is self-certified (there is no check with employer or HMRC to check the data is accurate), and the respondent can choose not to answer these questions.
The LFS and APS are the official sources for usual and actual hours worked. These statistics are presented in ONS's monthly first releases for the UK (sourced from the LFS) and for the regions of the UK (sourced from the APS)
The official source for data on earnings is the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings ( ASHE). Data for ASHE is available from:
Email: Claire Gordon
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House