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Questions and answers about the IAB Establishment Panel

What is the IAB Establishment Panel?

The IAB Establishment Panel is an annual survey of the same establishments in Germany repeated every year. The panel study originally commenced in 1993 in western Germany and was extended to the New Federal States in 1996. Establishments in all branches and of all sizes with least one employee covered by social security are surveyed.

Which establishments are surveyed?

The establishments are selected at random from the process data of the Federal Employment Agency which contains roughly 2 million employers. This employer databank is derived from the data set containing statistics on employees, in which employers register all employees covered by social security under the code number of their establishment. For selection of the random sample, groups of economic branches are combined into 17 overall branches (up to 1999 there were 16 branches, after that 20, and since 2005 17) and the size of the establishments into 10 categories.

How many establishments are surveyed? (Extent of the survey)

Through the financial participation of the eastern German states since 1996 and the western German states as of 2000 it has been possible to increase the samples to allow for regional evaluations at the level of the federal state. Close to 16,000 employers are surveyed in Germany each year.

Who is the survey conducted by?

The interviews at the individual establishments are carried out by Kantar Public Germany (formerly: TNS Infratest Sozialforschung), Munich, on behalf of the Federal Employment Agency. To this end, Kantar Public Germany employs specially trained interviewers. In the New Federal States, the survey institute works together with SÖSTRA, Berlin, in order to take the special features of the New Federal States into account during the survey.

What questions are asked?

This survey of establishments is not only aimed at taking stock of structures, situations and the background to problems in the establishments but also at assessing morale and the expectations for the future currently held by the establishments. A widely varied spectrum of questions is used to gather the following information on establishments:

  • Parameters of developments in employment (production, turnover, working hours, investment, capacity utilisation)
  • Demand for personnel and labour expectations (vacancies, open positions, fluctuations, establishment employment policies)
  • Status of and developments in technology and organisation, as well as their effects on jobs
  • Determinants of productivity, e.g. technical, organisational and economic factors
  • Data on the development of the establishment
  • Utilisation of employment promotion measures
  • Training and further training activities.

The questionnaire is revised each year and supplemented by questions of current relevance.

How is protection of data ensured?

All data are collected, processed and anonymized by Kantar Public Germany, Munich. This means that no one can see which establishment the data came from. To do this, Infratest separates the address from the data and gives it a code number. The data are then converted into figures and stored on the data carrier without a name and address. In this way, it is not possible to link either the data or the results to a particular establishment that has been surveyed.

Who evaluates the results of the survey?

The data are primarily evaluated by the Institute for Employment Research with regard to the requirements of the Federal Employment Agency. The ministries of the Federal States that cooperate with IAB have commissioned several research institutes to conduct regional evaluations. These institutes only have access to the data from their own state and not to those of other federal states. All institutes involved are responsible for legal data security and work in accordance with legal regulations pertaining to data protection.

Who is interested in the results?

Realistic studies can only be carried out – and timely policy recommendations made available to politicians – if data is both valid and reliable. The insights gained from the information on individual establishments also contribute to the decision-making of management/labour representatives, and various associations.

The Federal Employment Agency is obligated to offer advice on the labour market and to undertake labour market and occupational research. To contribute to this – and as a representative, establishment-based monitoring system – the IAB Establishment Panel provides information on the parameters of employment within the establishments themselves. The insights gained are intended to help optimize the processing of tasks at the employment agencies and the Regional Directorates in a manner that is fair to clients.

The establishments themselves can use the results of the IAB Establishment Panel in the sense of benchmarking as these provide information about how one's own establishment compares to others in the same branch or of the same size.

At the same time, the scientific community as a whole is particularly interested in the IAB Establishment Panel because it constitutes, for the first time, a data set representative of the economy as a whole through which research on the demand side of the labour market can be conducted.

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