HL Deb 12 November 1997 vol 583 c30WA
Lord Acton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the rate of unemployment in May 1997 in (a) the United Kingdom; (b) Canada; (c) France; (d) Italy; (e) Japan; (f) the United States of America; (g) Germany; (h) the former West Germany; and (i) the former East Germany.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Acton from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 12 November 1997.

I have been asked to reply, as Director of the Office for National Statistics, to your recent question on the rate of unemployment in May 1997 in various countries.

Figures based on the internationally recognised International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition of unemployment provide an appropriate basis for international comparisons. The ILO measure of unemployment, as derived from the Labour Force Survey, defines somebody as unemployed if they are: (a) without a job at the time of interview; (b) were available to start work in the two weeks following their interview and (c) had either looked for work in the four weeks prior to interview or were waiting to start a job they had already obtained. The ILO unemployment rate gives the number of the ILO unemployed as a percentage of the economically active.

Standardised unemployment rates are published monthly by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). These rates are calculated by taking the latest available ILO measure from each country's Labour Force Survey and projecting the results forward using recent movements in their particular administrative measure (the claimant count in the case of the UK).

The data requested are shown in the attached table. Data for the former West and East Germany are not available.

Seasonally adjusted standardised unemployment rates May 1997
Rate (per cent.)
United Kingdom 7.2
Canada 9.5
France 12.6
Italy 12.6
Japan 3.6
United States of America 4.8
Germany 9.6