© Wikimedia
© Wikimedia

Labour statistics for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Table of Contents

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Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its accompanying monitoring framework has major implications for national statistical systems worldwide as they face the complex task of producing reliable, consistent and comparable statistics for an increasing number of goals and targets. The MDGs had 8 Goals, 21 targets and 60 indicators whereas the SDGs have 17 Goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators.

As a custodian agency, the ILO reports to the UN data for 14 SDG indicators, grouped under 5 of the 17 Goals. Moreover, the ILO’s role in strengthening countries’ capacity for producing high-quality labour statistics has become even more crucial.

What are the SDGs?

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. The 17 SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. They cover a broad range of social and economic development issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, the environment and social justice, with a focus on the most vulnerable and a commitment that “no one will be left behind.”

The role of decent work

Goal 8, which aims to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”, highlights the importance of decent work in achieving sustainable development.

The role of statistics

The role of national statistical offices (NSOs)

High quality data (i.e., reliable, timely, consistent and comparable data) are required in order to measure and monitor progress towards the SDGs. NSOs play a pivotal role in the areas of data collection, coordination, reporting and validation of statistics for the SDGs. It is the responsibility of NSOs to provide statistics to international agencies such as the ILO to support the measurement of progress on SDGs. This includes identifying appropriate data sources and methodologies to produce the SDG indicators.

The role of the ILO Department of Statistics

The ILO contributes to five of 17 Goals. As custodian for 14 SDG indicators, the ILO is responsible for:

  • Compiling national statistics from data producers
  • Verifying country data and metadata and ensuring international comparability
  • Developing international standards and methods for Tier 3 indicators
  • Estimating global and regional aggregates
  • Analysing data and identifying data gaps and key trends
  • Reporting data and metadata to the UN annually and contributing to SDG progress reports
  • Strengthening national capacity for producing high-quality data on SDG labour indicators

The ILO Department of Statistics is the focal point for all inputs provided to the UN Statistics Division, with key contributions from other departments and field offices.

Data catalogue


Tier classification

TIER 1: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, and data are regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant.

TIER 2: Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data are not regularly produced by countries.

TIER 3: No internationally established methodology or standards are yet available for the indicator, but methodology/standards are being (or will be) developed or tested.​

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Use the search box and filters above the table

Use the search box to enter key words; use quotes around your term for better results. Available filters differ depending on the catalogue. Selecting a frequency allows users to find monthly, quarterly, or annual indicators. While all indicators are available for annual periods, only a subset are available as monthly or quarterly. 

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Data Explorer

This tool provides an intuitive interface to filter the selection, pivot the table, calculate distributions and growth rates, and export data into various formats.

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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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Available in the country catalogue only, this option takes users to the country profiles page with the selected country pre-filtered in the table. Highlighting the latest year available for key indicators, this is a subset of the available data for a given country.

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