Employment statistics

The importance of employment as a pathway to economic development, social inclusion and well-being has long been recognised. As well as being at the heart of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, employment is a central element in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which places emphasis on promoting productive employment and decent work for all (Goal 8).

In this context, statistics on employment are crucial to monitor progress towards many national and international policy goals. These statistics must not just quantify work and people in employment but also provide meaningful information on the types of jobs people are doing.

The international statistical standards relating to employment have undergone significant changes over time, designed to improve their relevance and depth for policy makers. The most significant of these changes came at the 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians in 2013 when the international community adopted the first statistical definition of work alongside a forms of work framework. Within the new framework, employment is defined as work performed in return for pay or profit. This is narrower than the scope of the previous definition which included some unpaid activities such as subsistence work. 

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Resolution concerning the measurement of underemployment and inadequate employment situations

Resolution concerning the measurement of underemployment and inadequate employment situations

Adopted by the 16th ICLS (1998), this resolution revises the existing standards on the measurement of underemployment and broadens the scope to cover also inadequate employment situations, in order to enhance the standards’ usefulness as technical guidelines to countries and improving the international comparability of the statistics.

Resolution concerning statistics of employment in the informal sector

Adopted by the 15th ICLS (1993), this resolution provides technical guidelines as a basis for the development of suitable definitions and classifications of informal sector activities and the design of appropriate data collection methods and programmes, in the hopes such standards will enhance the international comparability of statistics.


Resolution concerning the International Classification of Status in Employment (ICSE)

Adopted by the 15th ICLS (1993), this resolution is designated as the International Classification of Status in Employment (ICSE-93) and classifies jobs held by persons at a point in time.

*Replaced by the Resolution concerning statistics of work, employment and labour underutilization

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Data available in the Excel summary files are for indicators only (not available for countries or regions) for selected classification items for 2010 onward for annual data and 2018 onward for short-term indicators. For historical data or additional classifications, either use the Data Explorer or download the CSV file. 

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