The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) is a household-based sample survey conducted by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA). It collects data on the labour market activities of individuals aged 15 years or older who live in South Africa. Since 2008, StatsSA have produced an annual dataset based on the QLFS data, "Labour Market Dynamics in South Africa". The dataset is constructed using data from all all four QLFS datasets in the year. The dataset also includes a number of variables (including income) that are not available in any of the QLFS datasets from 2010.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
v1: Edited, anonymised dataset for public distribution
Version 1 of the Labour Market Dynamics in South Africa 2016 was downloaded from the Statistics South Africa website on the 10th of May 2018
Individuals: labour market activity, labour preferences, labour market history, demographic characteristics, marital status, employment status, education, grants, tax, income.
Health Systems & Financing
Social Protection (includes Pensions, Safety Nets, Social Funds)
National coverage, the lowest level of geographic aggregation for the data is Province.
The QLFS sample covers the non-institutional population except for those in workers' hostels. However, persons living in private dwelling units within institutions are enumerated. For example, within a school compound, one would enumerate the schoolmaster's house and teachers' accommodation because these are private dwellings. Students living in a dormitory on the school compound would, however, be excluded.
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
The Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) uses a master sample frame which has been developed as a general-purpose household survey frame that can be used by all other Stats SA household surveys that have reasonably compatible design requirement as the QLFS. The 2013 master sample is based on information collected during the 2011 population Census conducted by Stats SA. In preparation for Census 2011, the country was divided into 103 576 enumeration areas (EAs). The census EAs, together with the auxiliary information for the EAs were used as the frame units or building blocks for the formation of primary sampling units (PSUs) for the master sample since they covered the entire country and had other information that is crucial for stratification and creation of PSUs. There are 3 324 primary sampling units (PSUs) in the master sample with an expected sample of approximately 33 000 dwelling units (DUs). The number of PSUs in the current master sample (3 324) reflects an 8,0% increase in the size of the master sample compared to the previous (2007) master sample (which had 3 080 PSUs). The larger master sample of PSUs was selected to improve the precision (smaller CVs) of the QLFS estimates.
The master sample is designed to be representative at provincial level and within provinces at metro/non-metro levels. Within the metros, the sample is further distributed by geographical type. The three geography types are:urban, tribal and farms. This implies, for example, that within a metropolitan area, the sample is representative of the different geography types that may exist within that metro. It is divided equally into four sub-groups or panels called rotation groups. The rotation groups are designed in such a way that each of these groups has the same distribution pattern as that which is observed in the whole sample. They are numbered from one (1) to four (4) and these numbers also correspond to the quarters of the year in which the sample will be rotated for the particular group.
There are a number of aspects in which the 2013 version of the master sample differs from the 2007 version. In particular, the number of primary sample units increased. Mining strata were also introduced which serves to improve the efficiency of estimates relating to employment in mining. The number of geo-types was reduced from 4 to 3 while the new master sample allows for the publication of estimates of the labour market at metro level. The master sample was also adjusted Given the change in the provincial distribution of the South African population between 2001 and 2011. There was also an 8% increase in the sample size of the master sample of PSUs to improve the precision of the QLFS estimates. The sample size increased most notable in Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. For more details on the differences between the two master samples please consult the section 8 (technical notes) of the QLFS 2015 Q3 release document (P0211).
From the master sample frame, the QLFS takes draws exmploying a stratified two-stage design with probability proportional to size (PPS) sampling of PSUs in the first stage, and sampling of dwelling units (DUs) with systematic sampling in the second stage. The primary stratification occurred at provincial, metro/non-metro, mining and geography type while the secondary strata were created within the primary strata based on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population.
For each quarter of the QLFS, a ¼ of the sampled dwellings is rotated out of the sample. These dwellings are replaced by new dwellings from the same PSU or the next PSU on the list. Thus, sampled dwellings are expected to remain in the sample for four consecutive quarters. It should be noted that the sampling unit is the dwelling, and the unit of observation is the household. Therefore, if a household moves out of a dwelling after being in the sample for, two quarters and a new household moves in, the new household will be enumerated for the next two quarters. If no household moves into the sampled dwelling, the dwelling will be classified as vacant (or unoccupied).
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
In the report for the 2016 LMDSA Statistics South Africa have included the following "cautionary notes":
Mining: Caution is required when making conclusions based on the industrial profile of employed persons, since the clustered nature of the Mining industry means that it might not have been adequately captured by the QLFS sample. Alternative mining estimates are also included in the Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES).
2013 Master Sample: In 2015, Stats SA introduced a new master sample based on the Census 2011 data (2013 Master Sample). A number of improvements took place, including efforts to improve Mining estimates through the inclusion of Mining strata in provinces where employment in this industry was more than 30% of total employment. In addition, estimates of labour market indicators at a metro level was also published for the first time.
University of Cape Town
Public use data, available to all
Statistics South Africa. Labour Market Dynamics in South Africa 2016 [dataset]. Version 1. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa [producer], 2017. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2018.
Disclaimer and copyrights
The use of any data is subject to acknowledgement of Stats SA as the supplier and owner of copyright. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) will not be liable for any damages or losses, except to the extent that such losses or damages are attributable to a breach by Stats SA of its obligations in terms of an existing agreement or to the negligence or wilful act or omissions of the Stats SA, its servants or agents, arising out of the supply of data and or digital products in terms of that agreement. The user indemnifies Stats SA against any claims of whatsoever nature (including legal costs) by third parties arising from the reformatting, restructuring, reprocessing and/or addition of the data, by the user.
DDI Document ID
University of Cape Town
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
Version 1.1 (May 2018)
Identical to DataFirst Version 1 (zaf-statssa-lmdsa-2016-v1), except for DDI and ID fields that were edited.