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Labour and Income, Social Statistics
Uwe Pedersen
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International Labour Cost Indices

The indices are published on a quarterly basis to show developments of the Danish and other countries labour costs in an international setting. The figures from EU member countries are based on EU-harmonized regulations. It is expected that the harmonization will extend gradually over time. The numbers are not fully comparable to the Danish national indices of average earnings, which are collected and published quarterly. The international labour cost indices are exclusively published in Statistics Denmark’s quarterly news release NYT fra Danmarks Statistik entitled International Labour Costs, and where the EU-figures are collected from Eurostat database while the US figures stems from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) database.

Data description

The news release on international labour costs shows the yearly developments in the total labour cost per hour in the private sector for the 28 EU-member countries and the U.S. The labour costs constitute all costs associated with having people employed, i.e. including both direct and indirect remuneration of employees. The total labour costs are as a general rule measured against total hours worked.

Classification system

The statistics are published for all 27 EU member countries and the U.S.

Sector coverage

The indices are communicated as covering more or less the whole private sector. In practice this is defined by Eurostat as the "Business economy" and by the BLS as "Private Industry workers".

Statistical concepts and definitions

Wages and salaries: Wages and salaries constitute the payment of the work agreed upon between an employee and his employer.

Total labour costs: All direct and indirect remunarations associated with having a person employed.

Total labour costs per hours worked: Total labour costs include total earnings and other labour costs, total, both items are related to the number of hours worked.

Total hours worked: Total hours worked constitute the total amount of time someone is actually present at work or performing.

Other labour costs: Other labour costs are costs that are not considered to be an income for an employee.

Statistical unit

The data are published for all the 27 EU member countries and the U.S. and covers employees within economic activities B to N according to NACE Rev. 2.

Statistical population

Employees in enterprises or organizations in the private sector in the 27 EU member countries and in the U.S. In practice all enterprises in the broad sector of economic activity called Business Economy in the EU are covered, as well as enterprises in the sector Private Industry Workers in the U.S.

Reference area

All EU member countries and the U.S.

Time coverage

The statistics have been published by Statistics Denmark since 2003. Eurostat has information on labour costs going back to 1996, while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has published labour costs going back to 2001.

Base period

In the case of the EU member countries, the labour cost indices are chain-linked Laspeyres price indices which currently use the year 2016 as reference year.

Unit of measure

The counting unit is percentage.

Reference period

The period of reference is a quarter of a year.

Frequency of dissemination

The statistics are published quarterly.

Legal acts and other agreements

There is no actual act or regulation demanding that Statistics Denmark publish statistics on the development of international labour costs, as the data in question are simply collected and published from already existing sources in Eurostat and the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics. Instead, it is statutory for all EU member countries, including Denmark, to collect and transmit information on labour costs to the labour cost index to Eurostat. The legal basis for this is stated in Regulation (EC) No 450/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 February 2003 concerning the labour cost index.

Cost and burden

As the indices are collected directly from the homepages of Eurostat and the BLS, there is no direct cost or burden associated with the collection and production of the news release.


For further information, visit the page Information on earnings and labour costs or contact Statistics Denmark.