Quarterly benchmarked Unit Labour Cost indicators – By economic activity
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Unit labour costs are available in index (unadjusted, seasonally adjusted, and trend-cycle) and growth rates (seasonally adjusted, and trend-cycle).

Total Labour Cost and Real Output are available in millions of national currency.
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21-Oct-2013 9:31:02 AM
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Quarterly data is available for:
• all OECD member countries with the exception of: Chile, Greece, Iceland, Israel and Switzerland;
• zone aggregations: European union, Euro area, G7, OECD - Europe, and OECD - Total;
• non-member economies: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania.
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Raw quarterly unit labour costs are calculated as the quotient of the temporally disaggregated (benchmarked) quarterly time series of total labour costs and real output. This raw unit labour cost is then seasonally adjusted using the TRAMO-SEATS package. In addition to the seasonally adjusted series, TRAMO-SEATS produces a trend-cycle series which includes all non-seasonal and non-irregular movements in the underlying time series. The TRAMO-SEATS trend-cycle series is a combination of the long-term trend and business cycle series also produced by the package. As such, it will generally show all cycles of length greater than about 2 years, as cycles less than this are normally picked up in the seasonal component and taken out of the long-term trend. In simple terms, this series can be regarded as a short-term trend or smoothed seasonally adjusted series, where the degree of smoothing is dependent on the underlying ARIMA model and will thus vary from series to series.
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Every effort has been made to ensure that data are comparable across countries. Therefore cross country comparisons of unit labour cost levels (in ratio form) can be used for static analysis (i.e. comparison of unit labour cost levels across countries or economic activities at a point in time) together with indexes which show comparable development in unit labour costs over time. However, for some countries unit labour cost levels are not presented due to a lack of data to make an adjustment for the self-employed. For these countries only unit labour cost indexes are made available for analysis. Furthermore, the adjustment for the self-employed assumes that labour compensation per hour or per person is equivalent for the self employed and employees of businesses. This assumption may be more or less valid across different countries and economic activities thus affecting the comparability of unit labour cost level data. The OECD has performed extensive testing of the TRAMO-SEATS trend-cycle methodology and found that it significantly reduces the volatility of estimated quarter-on-previous-quarter rates of change whilst still effectively extracting the underlying signal in the raw data. Due to the volatility inherent in a derived series such as unit labour costs, the OECD recommends the trend-cycle series be used for the purpose of short-term analysis, in particular when interpreting the latest movements in the quarterly series.
Quarterly benchmarked Unit Labour Cost indicators – By economic activity Unit of measure used
Unit labour costs are available in index (unadjusted, seasonally adjusted, and trend-cycle) and growth rates (seasonally adjusted, and trend-cycle).

Total Labour Cost and Real Output are available in millions of national currency.
Date last updated
21-Oct-2013 9:31:02 AM
Statistical population
Quarterly data is available for:
• all OECD member countries with the exception of: Chile, Greece, Iceland, Israel and Switzerland;
• zone aggregations: European union, Euro area, G7, OECD - Europe, and OECD - Total;
• non-member economies: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania.
Key statistical concept
Unit labour costs measure the average cost of labour per unit of output. They are calculated as the ratio of total labour costs to real output. The data presented in this dataset are an output of the OECD System of Unit Labour Cost and Related Indicators which produces annual and quarterly unit labour cost measures according to a specific methodology to ensure data are comparable across OECD member countries. Quarterly time series are presented in this dataset and detailed metadata are provided for each variable and country in regards to the methodology and data sources used. For more information on the OECD System of Unit Labour Cost and Related Indicators, see http://stats.oecd.org/mei/.
Seasonal adjustment
Raw quarterly unit labour costs are calculated as the quotient of the temporally disaggregated (benchmarked) quarterly time series of total labour costs and real output. This raw unit labour cost is then seasonally adjusted using the TRAMO-SEATS package. In addition to the seasonally adjusted series, TRAMO-SEATS produces a trend-cycle series which includes all non-seasonal and non-irregular movements in the underlying time series. The TRAMO-SEATS trend-cycle series is a combination of the long-term trend and business cycle series also produced by the package. As such, it will generally show all cycles of length greater than about 2 years, as cycles less than this are normally picked up in the seasonal component and taken out of the long-term trend. In simple terms, this series can be regarded as a short-term trend or smoothed seasonally adjusted series, where the degree of smoothing is dependent on the underlying ARIMA model and will thus vary from series to series.
Recommended uses and limitations
Every effort has been made to ensure that data are comparable across countries. Therefore cross country comparisons of unit labour cost levels (in ratio form) can be used for static analysis (i.e. comparison of unit labour cost levels across countries or economic activities at a point in time) together with indexes which show comparable development in unit labour costs over time. However, for some countries unit labour cost levels are not presented due to a lack of data to make an adjustment for the self-employed. For these countries only unit labour cost indexes are made available for analysis. Furthermore, the adjustment for the self-employed assumes that labour compensation per hour or per person is equivalent for the self employed and employees of businesses. This assumption may be more or less valid across different countries and economic activities thus affecting the comparability of unit labour cost level data. The OECD has performed extensive testing of the TRAMO-SEATS trend-cycle methodology and found that it significantly reduces the volatility of estimated quarter-on-previous-quarter rates of change whilst still effectively extracting the underlying signal in the raw data. Due to the volatility inherent in a derived series such as unit labour costs, the OECD recommends the trend-cycle series be used for the purpose of short-term analysis, in particular when interpreting the latest movements in the quarterly series.