Annual Population Survey (APS)

The Annual Population Survey datasets were updated on Wed 18 July 2012 with new figures for the Jan 2011 – Dec 2011 and the Apr 2011 – Mar 2012 survey periods. This update includes qualification data in the estimates for the Jan 2011 – Dec 2011 calendar year period.

The estimates for Apr 2011 – Mar 2012 are being released 3 months earlier than would previously have been the case, as announced in an earlier news item. Improvements to the processing of these datasets by ONS will result in all subsequent APS datasets being released approximately 3.5 months after the end of each reference period.

Reweighting: the series has been reweighted back to the Oct 2008 – Sep 2009 survey period. Consequently, estimates downloaded from Nomis for affected periods may differ to those you obtained previously.

Background to reweighting: The APS is a sample survey, so the responses reflect only a small proportion of the total population. Each respondent is given a weight relating to the proportion of the total population that he or she represents. The sum of all the weights equals the total household population for the survey. Reweighting means assigning different weights that are derived from more up-to-date population estimates.  

Ethnicity data: ethnicity data which was missing from the previous three updates is included in these updates. Due to changes in the ethnicity questions on the Annual Population Survey during 2011 these estimates should not be used as a timeseries. They can, however, be used to estimate the relative levels of economic activity of the different ethnic groupings. A more detailed note is available on the ONS website.

Country of birth estimates are not included in this initial release; they will be released on Wed 15 Aug 2012 in line with the ONS coherent reporting policy for migration statistics (more details below).

The next update is scheduled for 17 Oct 2012 when data for the Jul 2011 – Jun 2012 survey period will be released.

Accessing APS Data

Headline APS figures for an area are available in local authority profiles and parliamentary constituency profiles. The headline national and regional figures are available as a separate spreadsheet download (xls).

Use the wizard or advanced query options to access the full APS datasets which contain a much wider range of variables than provided in the profiles:

  • Annual Population Survey: the main data set with the largest set of variables. Use this to get information about people living in an area.   [link to data]
  • Annual Population Survey - workplace analysis: use this to get employment information about the population working in an area.   [link to data]

Topics covered in the main APS dataset are:

Country of birth by white/ethnic minority
Disability level by economic activity
Economic activity rate by age
Economically inactive by age
Employment rate by age
Full-time and part-time employment
Ethnic group by age
Ethnic group by industry of employment
Ethnic group by occupation of employment
Ethnic group by economic activity
Health problems by economic activity
Hours worked weekly
Industry of employment
Job-related training
National identity and Welsh language
Nationality by white/ethnic minority
Occupation major group of employment
Occupation sub-major group of employment
Public and private sector employment
Qualifications (GCSE) by age
Qualifications (GCSE) of economically active
Qualifications (NVQ) by age
Qualifications (NVQ) of economically active
Qualifications (NVQ) of employed
Self-employed and employees
Taught adult learning by disability level and by age
Unemployment rate by age

About the APS

The Annual Population Survey (APS) is a combined survey of households in Great Britain. Its purpose is to provide information on key social and socioeconomic variables between the 10-yearly censuses, with particular emphasis on providing information relating to sub-regional (local authority) areas. Due to sample size limitations, APS data is not available below local authority level i.e. data is not available for wards and super output areas.

The first publication of APS data covered the survey period January to December 2004. Subsequently, APS data has been published on a quarterly basis, but with each publication covering a year's data. For example, data relating to the survey period April 2004 to March 2005 was published in September 2005, whereas data relating to July 2004 to June 2005 was published in December 2005.

Sample Size

When the APS was introduced in 2004 it comprised the annual Local Area Labour Force Survey (LALFS) supplemented by an extra boost, the APS(B), designed to obtain a sample of 500 economically active adults in each local authority district. As a cost saving measure, the APS(B) was scaled back in mid-2005 and was withdrawn from January 2006.

APS estimates for the April 2005 to March 2006 period onwards revert to the sample used for the previous annual LALFS. The last period which contains APS(B) cases is that covering January to December 2005, as this is the last period for which a complete year's boost is available.

Sample sizes by local authority are available in a spreadsheet from the link below.

APS Sample Size by local authority (xls, 135Kb)

Country of Birth

New measures to improve the way in which population and migration statistics are reported across government were announced on 26 February 2008. This is the first step towards a new coherent reporting programme for demographic statistics, a key recommendation of the 2006 Interdepartmental Task Force on Migration Statistics. The initiative aims to ensure that related demographic data from different government departments are presented in a coordinated manner on a limited number of dates throughout the year.

Qualification Data

The estimates for the Jan 2011 – Dec 2011 survey period include qualification data. Qualifications data are only be available from the APS for calendar year periods (i.e. Jan to Dec periods). This is because the questions in the survey relating to qualifications change. From Jan 2006, these changes occur at the start of January each year, so the calendar year will be the only period not be affected by them. Qualifications figures will be shown as missing in other periods.

Further Information

The ONS Labour Market Guide has a section about the Annual Population Survey:

ONS Labour Market Guide: Annual Population Survey (link)

The LFS user guide is available from the link below and Volume 6 covers local area data and covers the APS. The methodology for the APS is the same as for the former local area annual LFS.

LFS User Guide (link)