Employment estimates designate a synthesis of sources offering exhaustive coverage of total employment (salaried and self-employed), expressed in number of natural persons (rather than in number of work positions), and a fairly fine sector-level and geographical breakdown. Their purpose is to provide coverage of total employment and consistency between the different levels of aggregation.
Employment estimates include annual estimates covering total employment at 31st December and infra-annual (quarterly) estimates with a more restricted scope (salaried employment in the market sectors and private salaried employment in the non-market sectors in Metropolitan France). The estimates produced prior to September 2009 were based on the employment levels in the general population census of 1999, to which are applied employment trend indices from various sources, in particular the Acemo survey by the Dares and data from the Urssaf (exploited via Epure files) and the Unédic.
Since 2009, the annual employment estimates have been calculated using the Estel (Estimations d'emploi localisées – Localised employment estimates) system based on the use of administrative sources by level. For salaried employees these are the annual data declarations (known as "large format DADS") which, along with the DADS themselves, contain data from the wage file of State employees and those from private employers. For self-employed farmers, the sources used are the files of the Mutualité Sociale Agricole (MSA), and for the non-agricultural self-employed, the files from the Agence Centrale des Organismes de Sécurité Sociale (ACOSS) which is the national fund of the Unions de Recouvrement des Cotisations de Sécurité Sociale et d'Allocations Familiales (URSSAF).
The switch to Estel serves to improve the annual employment estimates in several respects: better quality of data (multi-activity explicitly taken into account, improved quality of upstream sources, restriction of the number of sources used), double localisation at the place of residence and workplace, finer breakdown (geographical and in terms of categories of workers), concept of "ILO indexed" employment which is precise and stable over time, homogenisation of methods and processing, shorter lead times.
The central concept of Estel – the number of people in employment – is close to that of the ILO. The measure will be dated at 31 December each year.
ESTEL estimates the number of people in employment. But unlike the census, Estel employment is not declarative since it is taken from administrative sources in order to count any person as being in employment if they have performed declared work of at least one hour during the last week of the year or have a formal link with their employment (for salaried workers, this basically involves identifying "active" work contracts at the end of December).