UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

New Earnings Survey, 1986-2002: Secure Access

Title details

SN: 6704
Title: New Earnings Survey, 1986-2002: Secure Access
Alternative title: NES
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-6704-1
Depositor: Office for National Statistics
Principal investigator(s): Office for National Statistics
Data collector(s): Office for National Statistics
Sponsor(s): Office for National Statistics


The citation for this study is:

Office for National Statistics. (2011). New Earnings Survey, 1986-2002: Secure Access. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 6704,

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Subject Categories

General - Employment and labour
Income, property and investment - Economics


Abstract copyright UK Data Service and data collection copyright owner.

The New Earnings Survey (NES) is an annual survey of the earnings of employees in Great Britain. Its primary purpose is to obtain information about the levels, distribution and make-up of earnings, and for the collective agreements that cover them.

The NES is designed to represent all categories of employees in businesses of all kinds and sizes. It provides a large amount of information on earnings and hours (including bonuses, overtime, etc) as well as industry information derived from the Inter-Departmental Business Register. It provides no information on personal characteristics of the employee apart from age and gender. Most variables are collected each year, although a few additional questions asked each year may or may not be asked in other years. The earnings, hours of work and other information relate to a specified week in April of each year.

The NES sampling frame is mainly supplied by Inland Revenue records. It is based largely on a one per cent sample of employees who are members of Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) income tax schemes. The PAYE sample is supplemented by data provided by large employers, using extracts from their payroll systems. A survey form is sent to employers, and completion is compulsory under the Statistics of Trade Act 1947. Some large businesses make automatic submissions direct from their electronic records.

Certain categories of employees are not selected: for example the Armed Forces, those employed in Enterprise Zones, private domestic service workers, occupational pensioners, non-salaried directors, those employed oversees, those working for their spouses, and clergymen holding pastoral appointments.

The NES was replaced by the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (UK Data Archive SN 6689) in 2004.

Further information on the NES can be found on the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) New Earnings Survey web page.

There are a number of issues and inconsistencies associated with the NES data. Users are advised to read the documentation carefully before using the dataset. For example, ONS advise for safety reasons that only data from 1998 onwards should be used because 1998 was the first year that annual earnings were validated properly and published.

Geographical references: postcodes
The postcodes available in these data from 1996 are pseudo-anonymised postcodes. The real postcodes are not available due to the potential risk of identification of the observations. However, these replacement postcodes retain the inherent nested characteristics of real postcodes, and will allow researchers to aggregate observations to other geographic units, e.g. wards, super output areas, etc. In the dataset, the variable of the replacement postcode is 'new_PC'.

Main Topics:
The NES collects the following data for employees in all industries and occupations and for the major national collective agreements:
  • levels, distributions and make-up of earnings
  • hours worked
  • industry
  • occupation
  • place of work
  • gender
  • age

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period: 1986 - 2002
Country: Great Britain
Spatial units: Council Areas
Counties (Metropolitan)
Districts (Metropolitan)
Districts (Non-metropolitan)
Government Office Regions
Postcode (Unit) [anonymised]
Training and Enterprise Councils
Travel to Work Areas
Unitary Authorities (England)
Unitary Authorities (Wales)
Wards (Electoral)
Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Alpha/numeric data
Individual (micro) level
Business microdata
Universe: National
Working individuals aged from 16 years residing and working in Great Britain in 1986-2002
Time dimensions: Repeated cross-sectional study
Sampling procedures: Simple random sample
One per cent sample of individuals from National Insurance records
Number of units: Approximately 160,000 to 170,000 individuals
Method of data collection: Postal survey
Weighting: No weighting used

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 25 March 2011
Copyright: Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland
Access conditions: Registration is required and standard conditions of use apply. The depositor may be informed about usage. Controlled data requirements and conditions also apply. Further information is available from Access Secure Lab.

In addition, the Service is required to request explicit permission from the data owner prior to providing the researcher with access to the data

Please note:
Since these data are more sensitive and/or pose a higher risk of disclosure than data made available under the standard End User Licence, they are not available for download but may be accessed through our Secure Lab. Access requires: ONS Accredited Researcher status (including the requirement to attend and pass the Safe User of Research data Environments (SURE) training course); submission of a project proposal; and completion of a Secure Access User Agreement. This is to ensure that the guarantee of confidentiality given to survey respondents is protected. Users are required to read and follow the Microdata Handling and Security: Guide to Good Practice.

To apply for access, users should use the Download/Order link on this page and will be directed to the relevant forms as part of the ordering process.

Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Get in touch


Title File Name Size (KB)
Variable list 6704variable_reference.xls 1247
UK Data Archive Data Dictionary 6704allfiles_ukda_data_dictionary.pdf 584
NES and NESPD occupational codes 6704occupational_codes.pdf 2918
"NES report, 1986" 6704report_1986.pdf 7593
User guide 6704userguide.pdf 136
Study information and citation UKDA_Study_6704_Information.htm 6
READ File read6704.htm 11


View publications... Hide publications...

By principal investigator(s):

Resulting from secondary analysis:
Williams, M. (2011) The changing structure of occupations and wage inequality, D.Phil. dissertation, University of Oxford.

Dickens, R., Riley, R. and Wilkinson, D. (2012) Re-examining the impact of the national minimum wage on earnings, employment and hours: The importance of recession and firm size (Report to the Low Pay Commission).

Williams, M. (In press) ‘Occupations and British wage inequality, 1970s-2000s’, European Sociological Review.

Sanchis-Guarner, R. (2012) Driving up wages: the effects of road construction in Great Britain, SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0120, London School of Economics and Political Science LSE Research Laboratory, see

Gibbons, S., Lyytikainen, T., Overman, H., Sanchis-Guarner, R. (2012) New road infrastructure: the effects on firms, SERC Discussion Paper SERCDP0117, London School of Economics and Political Science LSE Research Laboratory, see


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