The history of the Labour Institute for Economic Research (Palkansaajien Tutkimuslaitos – PT) dates back to 1951, when the People’s Market Research Institute (Kansan Markkinatutkimuslaitos – KAMALA) was established. This was the first research institute of the Finnish labour movement. The task of the institute was to study consumption and living costs, agricultural subsidies, cyclical fluctuations in the economy and especially the development of economic competition.

The splintering of the Finnish labour movement and trade unions during the 1950s and the 1960s meant a quiet time for the institute. The consolidation of trade unions at the end of the 1960s gave a new impetus to the institute, which was reorganised by the Union of Consumer Co-operatives (Kulutusosuuskuntien Keskusliitto – KK) and the newly founded Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK). A new research institute was set up in 1971 and named the Labour Institute for Economic Research (Työväen taloudellinen tutkimuslaitos – TTT). It was separated from the Union of Consumer Co-operatives in 1974. Since then, the Labour Institute for Economic Research has been an independent body supported by an association of member organisations.

The research interests of the institute shifted from market research to macroeconomic issues. In the 1970s, the institute’s activities were characterised by polemics and social criticism. Over the next decade, as its activities became increasingly professional and scientific, the institute solidified its position itself as a respected economic research institute.

The institute’s current Finnish name, Palkansaajien Tutkimuslaitos, was adopted in 1993, when all Finnish central trade union confederations became members of its support association.