HC Deb 03 February 1998 vol 305 c569W
Ms Lawrence

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes are planned to labour market statistics. [27823]

Mr. Willetts

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Government expects to publish the conclusions of the Office of National Statistics review of unemployment statistics. [27185]

Mrs. Liddell

The Office for National Statistics is announcing today a new approach to the presentation of labour market statistics following widespread public consultation. This will deliver a more rounded assessment of the UK's increasingly complex labour market.

From April, one news release a month will present a coherent picture of the labour market. It will use all available statistics. There will be no change to any definition of unemployment. But greater weight than previously will now be given to the Labour Force Survey which uses internationally agreed definitions as recommended by the International Labour Organisation. The release will focus on people in employment, on unemployed people who are seeking work and, people who are economically inactive. All three sectors are equally important in understanding the labour market.

The programme of improvements is designed to make labour market statistics both user relevant and user friendly, and includes: an extension of the range of indicators on a monthly basis; LFS information will be released every month as an average of the latest three months' data; for the first time whole economy employment and ILO unemployment statistics will be published monthly on a consistent basis; the publication of labour force survey data on a UK basis; the incorporation of labour force survey data in the regional labour market first releases; the publication of new indicators relating to jobs and businesses derived from employers' survey; improved earnings data to reduce the number of revisions.

The ONS will be organising a series of workshops and seminars. These will build on recently published articles explaining how the various statistical measures inter-relate.

The announcement follows an extensive period of consultation with data users. Independent academic experts have been consulted about changes to the methodology ONS uses in producing its labour market statistics.

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