This collection includes data derived from national population and housing censuses. Population Censuses are generally conducted every 10 years and have as primary objective the total enumeration of the population of a country to provide essential information on their spatial distribution, age and sex structure, and other key social and economic characteristics. Because of this, they are a unique source of information for benchmarking and to generate statistics for small areas and for small population groups.

Traditionally, population and housing censuses have relied on a full mapping and canvassing of all households in a country to enable the universal and simultaneous enumeration of every person within national boundaries. More recently, some countries have begun adopting alternative approaches including micro-censuses, rolling censuses and register-based censuses in an attempt to reduce costs and meet additional data demands.

Census data on the economic characteristics of the population can be particularly useful to prepare basic tabulations of the population by their labour market situation (employed, unemployed, outside the labour force) or activity status (student, homemaker, etc) or to shed light on the labour market situation of small population groups (e.g. foreign-born persons, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, etc), small areas (e.g. unemployment hot spots), small worker groups (e.g. apprentices), or detailed industry and occupation groups, not often feasible with other data sources.

In general, census data should not be used to produce headline labour market indicators, such as the unemployment rate, especially when a regular national LFS or similar survey exists in the country. The indicators are likely to differ between the census and the LFS given differences in operations, training of personnel, limitations in the number and type of questions that can be included, etc.