HC Deb 04 April 2001 vol 366 cc191-3W
Mr. Hilary Benn

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what revisions to the Labour Market Statistics are scheduled for April; and what the impact of such revisions will be on(a) national and local statistics and (b) relevant Department for Education and Employment policies. [155761]

Mr. Blunkett

ONS announced on 19 July 2000 that they would be introducing a new annual survey of employee jobs—the Annual Business Inquiry (ABI)—to replace the Annual Employment Survey. The new statistics will be published in the Labour Market First Release on 11 April. These data are used in national regional and local estimates of employee jobs and the national and regional Workforce Jobs series. In addition the estimates are used in the calculation of claimant count rates nationally, regionally and locally and in national and regional productivity estimates.

Work carried out by ONS established that the ABI was the better estimate of employee jobs in the economy and that the errors in the previous estimate had occurred back over time. ONS have indicated the following on the likely effects. Early indications, from mid-2000, were that the revisions will show 500,000 to 750,000 more jobs for 1998 than previously estimated. If these indications of the scale are applied to the claimant unemployment rate, then the 1998 UK rate would be revised down by 0.2 percentage points. The UK claimant count level is unaffected. Productivity levels will be revised down, but growth rates will only be slightly affected by the introduction of the ABI. An improved methodology is being introduced from 1997 onwards. Revisions will take place over the history of the series. Locally, employee job estimates and claimant unemployment rates for regions, local authorities and parliamentary constituencies will also be revised. DfEE like all users have no indication of the scale of these revisions for each local area. The claimant count rates will be revised downwards nationally. Past experience suggests that although the local rates will in general be revised down some local claimant rates may be revised up.

As the revisions will be over the history of the series, changes over time in these series will be relatively unaffected.

There will also be annual seasonal adjustment reviews to the Labour Force Survey, claimant count and vacancies series. These do not usually lead to significant revisions.

The information available from ONS only gives some indication of the likely scale of the revisions. DfEE will fully assess any impact on our policies once we have the exact information available to us. However, the indication that changes over time will be relatively unaffected suggests that the impact on our policies will not be major.

Full details on the new statistics will be available on 11 April from the House of Commons Library.