UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 1997-2017: Secure Access

Title details

SN: 6689
Title: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 1997-2017: Secure Access
Alternative title: ASHE; New Earnings Survey; NES
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-6689-11
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. (2018). Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 1997-2017: Secure Access. [data collection]. 12th Edition. UK Data Service. SN: 6689,

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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 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) is one of the largest surveys of the earnings of individuals in the UK. Data on the wages, paid hours of work, and pensions arrangements of nearly one per cent of the working population are collected. Other variables relating to age, occupation and industrial classification are also available. The ASHE sample is drawn from National Insurance records for working individuals, and the survey forms are sent to their respective employers to complete.

While limited in terms of personal characteristics compared to surveys such as the Labour Force Survey, the ASHE is useful not only because of its larger sample size, but also the responses regarding wages and hours are considered to be more accurate, since the responses are provided by employers rather than from employees themselves. A further advantage of the ASHE is that data for the same individuals are collected year after year. It is therefore possible to construct a panel dataset of responses for each individual running back as far as 1997, and to track how occupations, earnings and working hours change for individuals over time. Furthermore, using the unique business identifiers, it is possible to combine ASHE data with data from other business surveys, such as the Annual Business Survey (UK Data Archive SN 7451).

The ASHE replaced the New Earnings Survey (NES, SN 6704) in 2004. NES was developed in the 1970s in response to the policy needs of the time. The survey had changed very little in its thirty-year history. ASHE datasets for the years 1997-2003 were derived using ASHE methodologies applied to NES data.

The ASHE improves on the NES in the following ways:
  • the NES questionnaire allowed too much variation in employer responses, leading to wide variations in the data
  • weightings have been introduced to take account of the population size (significant biases were a known problem in NES data)
  • the significant numbers of employees who change jobs between the sample selection and survey reference dates are retained in the ASHE sample, whereas these were dropped from the NES
Linking to other business studies
These data contain Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) reference numbers. These are anonymous but unique reference numbers assigned to business organisations. Their inclusion allows researchers to combine different business survey sources together. Researchers may consider applying for other business data to assist their research.

Observations from Northern Ireland
The ASHE data held by the UK Data Archive include very few observations from Northern Ireland. Users requiring access to Northern Ireland data are advised to contact the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, who administer this aspect of the survey.

Local unit reference variable, luref
The local unit reference variable 'luref', is generated to indicate multiple occurrences of the same local unit for disclosure checking purposes. It is inconsistent across years and is not an IDBR reference number. It should not be used to link ASHE with other business datasets.

For the twelfth edition (July 2018), a pooled pension data file covering 2011 to 2017 has been added to the study.

Main Topics:
The ASHE contains a small number of variables for each individual, relating to wages, hours of work, pension arrangements, and occupation and industrial classifications. There are also variables for age, gender and full/part-time status. Because the data are collected by the employer, there are also variables relating to the organisation employing the individual. These include employment size and legal status (e.g. public company).

Coverage, universe, methodology

Time period: 1997 - 2017
Country: United Kingdom
Spatial units: Government Office Regions
Output Areas
Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies
Welsh National Assembly Electoral Regions
Scottish Parliamentary Constituencies
Health Authority Regions
Primary Care Trusts
NHS Care Trusts
Postcode (Unit)
Local Authority Districts
NUTS-I Areas
Training and Enterprise Councils
Travel to Work Areas
Super Output Areas (Lower Layer)
Super Output Areas (Middle Layer)
Health Areas
Clinical Commissioning Groups
LAU-1 Areas
Scottish Electoral Regions
Observation units: Individuals
Kind of data: Alpha/numeric data
Individual (micro) level
Universe: National
Working individuals aged from 16 years residing and working in the UK in 1997-2017.
Time dimensions: Longitudinal/panel/cohort
Sampling procedures: Simple random sample
One per cent sample of individuals from National Insurance records
Number of units: Approximately 140,000-185,000 individuals per year
Method of data collection: Postal survey
Weighting: Weighting used. See documentation for details

Thesaurus search on keywords

Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 25 March 2011
Latest edition: 19 July 2018 (12th Edition)
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)
ASHE Areas vs. Local Authority Districts (effective from 1 April 2009) 6689_ashe_areas_vs_local_authority_districts.xls 70
Variable Catalogue, 1997-2016 6689_ashe_variable_catalogue_1997_2016.xls 87
Guidance and Methodology Information 6689_guidance_and_methodology.pdf 2648
Measurement Information 6689_measurement_information.pdf 684
Quality and Methodology Information Reports 6689_quality_methodology_information_reports.pdf 303
Questionnaires 2004 - 2014 6689_questionnaires_2004_2014.pdf 666
UK Data Archive Data Dictionary 6689_ukda_data_dictionary.pdf 909
User Guide, 1997 - 2007 6689_userguide_1997_2007.pdf 303
User Guide, 2006 6689_userguide_2006.pdf 236
User Guide, 2008 6689_userguide_2008.pdf 308
User Guide, 2009 6689_userguide_2009.pdf 311
User guide, 2012 6689_userguide_2012.pdf 3650
User Guide, 2013 6689_userguide_2013.pdf 429
User guide, 2014 6689_userguide_2014.pdf 3842
User guide, 2017 6689_userguide_2017.pdf 328
Study information and citation UKDA_Study_6689_Information.htm 6
READ File read6689.htm 13


View publications... Hide publications...

By principal investigator(s):

Resulting from secondary analysis:
Riley, R. (2010) Industry knowledge spillovers: do workers gain from their collective experience?, National Institute Discussion Paper No.353, London: NIESR. Also published as LLAKES Research Paper No. 17.

Riley, R. and Robinson, C. (2011) UK economic performance: How far do intangibles count?, FP7 Innodrive Working Paper No. 14, March.

Riley, R. and Robinson, C. (2011) Agglomeration spillovers from intangible capital: An analysis of UK city regions, FP7 Innodrive Working Paper No. 15, March.

Piekkola, H. et al. (2011) ‘Firm-level intangible capital in six countries: Finland, Norway, the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovenia’ in H. Piekkola (ed.) Intangible capital – driver of growth in Europe, Proceedings of the University of Vaasa, Report No. 167.
Williams, M. (2011) The changing structure of occupations and wage inequality, D.Phil. dissertation, University of Oxford.

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

Bryson, A., Forth, J. and Stokes, L. (2012) 'Incentive pay: how important is it and does it work?', paper presented to the 9th Annual Labour Relations Conference, London Stock Exchange, 24 October.

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

Riley, R. and Robinson, C. (2013) 'The role of intangible capital in productivity growth – a British city region perspective', paper presented at the ZEW Workshop on Intangible Assets, Mannheim, Germany, 2-3 May, 2013.

Riley, R. and Robinson, C. (2013) 'Intangibles and business performance: evidence from the UK', paper presented at the EU FP7 e-Frame Workshop on Intangible Assets ZEW, Mannheim, Germany, 2-3 May, 2013.

Blundell, R., Crawford, C. and Jin, W.(M.) (2013) What can wages and employment tell us about the UK's productivity puzzle?, IFS Working Papers, W13/11, June. London: Institute for Fiscal Studies. doi: 10.1920/wp.ifs.2013.1311. Retrieved August 19, 2013 from

Crawford,C., Jin, W.(M.) and Simpson, H. (2013) 'Productivity, investment and profits during the Great Recession: evidence from UK firms and workers', Fiscal Studies, 34(2), pp.153-177.

Cribb, J. and Joyce, R. (2015) 'Earnings since the recession', in C. Emmerson, P. Johnson and R. Joyce (eds.) The IFS Green Budget, London: Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), February. Retrieved December 17, 2015 from
Cribb, J., Disney, R. and Sibieta, L. (2015) The public sector workforce: past, present and future, IFS Briefing Note BN 145. Retrieved December 17, 2015 from . doi:10.1920/bn.ifs.2014.00145

Cribb, J., Emmerson, C. and Sibieta, L. (2015) Public sector pay in the UK, IFS Report R97. Retrieved December 17, 2015 from

Cribb, J. and Emmerson, C.(2015) Workplace pensions and remuneration in the public and private sectors in the UK, IFS Briefing Note BN 151. Retrieved December 17, 2015 from
Crawford, R., Emmerson, C. and Disney, R. (2015) The short run elasticity of National Health Service nurses' labour supply in Great Britain, IFS Working Paper WP15/04. Retrieved December 17, 2015 from

Cribb, J. and Emmerson, C. (2016) 'Workplace pensions and remuneration in the public and private sectors in the UK', National Institute Economic Review, 237, R30-R37.

Williams, M.T. (2017) 'Occupational stratification in contemporary Britain: occupational class and the wage structure in the wake of the Great Recession', Sociology.

Cribb, J., Joyce, R. and Keiller, A.N. (2017) Minimum wages in the next parliament, IFS Briefing Note (BN205), London: Institute for Fiscal Studies. Retrieved June 27th, 2017 from

Bryson, A. and Forth, J. (2017) Wage growth in pay review body occupations, Report to the Office of Manpower Economics. Retrieved September 25th, 2017 from

Cribb, J., Hood, A., Joyce, R. and Norris Keiller, A. (2017) Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2017, IFS Report (R129), London: Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Retrieved September 25, 2017 from

Schaefer, D. and Singleton, C. (2017) Real wages and hours in the Great Recession: evidence from firms and their entry-level jobs, CESifo Working Paper No. 6766, November. Retrieved December 8th, 2017 from

Schaefer, D. and Singleton, C. (2017), Recent changes in British wage inequality: evidence from firms and occupations, No 459, 2017 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics. Retrieved December 8th, 2017 from

Cribb, J., Joyce, R. and Keiller, A.N. Will the rising minimum wage lead to more low-paid jobs being automated?, [IFS Observation blog post], 4 January 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018, from


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