Annual Population Survey (APS)


Main uses

For supposed data disclosure reasons, the public version of the Labour Force Survey does not include local authority codes and thus does not permit analysis at the sub-regional level.  APS is designed to fill this gap: its records are the same as those in the Labour Force Survey but with the addition of selected boosters for small local authority areas such that  reliable estimates can be obtained at the local authority level.  Each record contains a subset of the fields from the Labour Force Survey but with the addition of the local authority codes.  As such, APS is the main government survey for analysis of the workforce at the local authority level.


In summary:

  • Available from: UK data archive.
  • Registration required: yes, plus specific approval from ONS required for the versions of the datasets which contain local authority codes.
  • First survey available: 2004.
  • Frequency: quarterly.
  • Updated: Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct.
  • Scope: UK-wide.
  • Format: SPSS, STATA or TAB.
  • Files: a single individual-level file per quarter.
  • Documentation: comprehensive.
  • Weighted or unweighted: weighted.
  • Household income data: no.

Each quarterly APS contains data for the whole of the preceding year (not just the preceding quarter) and comes in two flavours:

  • With the local authority codes.  This version has an approval process which is granted at the behest of ONS based on various criteria and which, even if granted, requires the user to make certain undertakings.
  • Without local authority codes.

For most purposes, it is the versions with the local authority codes which will be required (because otherwise the Labour Force Survey is the obvious source).  Note that the approval process required to access these datasets is non-trivial in terms of both whether or not it is granted and how long it takes to gain the approval.

General issues

When to use APS and when to use the Labour Force Survey

Clearly APS is to be used when sub-regional analysis is to be undertaken as the Labour Force Survey does not contain local authority codes.  Some people argue that it should also be used in preference to the Labour Force Survey when the analysis is at a regional level because of the sample boosters (and this is why the version without local authority codes exists).  This is right in principle but, in practice, it has a number of disadvantages.  First, APS is only available from 2004 onwards and thus does not permit time trend analysis.  Second, the publication of the APS datasets is much less reliable than that for the Labour Force Survey in terms of both timing and availability.  For both reasons, the use of APS by this website is restricted to analysis at the local authority level.

Which software to use

Any individual APS dataset comprises around 500,000 records.  As such, the summations should usually be done using SPSS or equivalent rather than by exporting the base data into Excel.

What variables to use

The variables in APS often have different names than their LFS equivalents.  Furthermore, many of the variable names in APS change from year to year, although the documentation does not.  The key here is to look through the SPSS variable label description to decide which variables to use.

What weights to use

In the 2006 dataset, there is only one weight.  In the earlier datasets, however, there are several weights wit the choice between them depending on which variables are being analysed (see the user documentation for a discussion of this issue).

Specific issues

As the APS dataset has a subset of the variables used by the Labour Force Survey, all the issues discussed on the Labour Force Survey web page webpage apply.

Relevant graphs on this website

UK graphs

Indicator Graphs Comments
Wanting paid work map Update annually using the dataset to end December.

Note that the variables often have different names than their LFS equivalents (e.g. ilodefr).

Use pwaps05a weight because all variables are core.

Scotland and Wales graphs

These are effectively a subset of the UK map, using government region as a filter.