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Guide to Jobs

Released: 14 November 2012 Download PDF

Abstract

The number of people with jobs is not the same as the number of jobs. This is because a person can have more than one job. The number of people with jobs is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS also provides an estimate of the number of jobs by adding main and second jobs, but the industry breakdown is less reliable than that provided by Workforce Jobs (WFJ). Workforce Jobs provides estimates of the number of jobs in the economy and is the preferred measure of short-term change in jobs by industry, but the employment estimates sourced from the LFS are the preferred measure of whole economy employment as the LFS provides a more comprehensive measure of employment.

More detail

The number of people with jobs is not the same as the number of jobs. This is because a person can have more than one job. The number of people with jobs is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS also provides an estimate of the number of jobs by adding main and second jobs, but the industry breakdown is less reliable than that provided by Workforce Jobs (WFJ). Workforce Jobs (295.4 Kb Pdf) provides estimates of the number of jobs in the economy and is the preferred measure of short-term change in jobs by industry, but the employment estimates sourced from the LFS are the preferred measure of whole economy employment as the LFS provides a more comprehensive measure of employment.

WFJ is a compound measure and draws upon a range of sources:

  • employee jobs estimated from a range of employer surveys

  • self-employment jobs estimated from the Labour Force Survey (LFS)

  • HM Forces from administrative sources

  • Government-Supported Trainees (GST) from administrative sources

WFJ is published in the National and Regional Labour Market Statistical Bulletins and on the NOMIS ® website. Long run quarterly time series by industry, region, gender and full/part-time are available. The LFS and WFJ measures are reconciled each quarter. Job vacancies are measured separately by the Vacancy Survey.

WFJ estimates are subject to various sources of error that can be categorised into sampling error and non-sampling error.

Sampling error occurs for survey estimates that are based on samples rather than a census. Since March 2013, ONS has published approximate sampling variability information for workforce jobs which will be updated on an annual basis. Further information about the development of sampling variability estimates for workforce jobs is available in an article on the website (53.5 Kb Pdf) .

The estimated 95% confidence interval (the range around an estimate which in 95% of cases will include the true value) for quarterly Workforce Jobs estimates is between +/- 200,000 to 300,000 jobs, a coefficient of variation of approximately +/- 0.5%.

Non-sampling errors include errors of coverage, measurement, processing and non-response and are difficult to quantify. The employer surveys usually exceed a monthly response rate of 80 per cent. Reliability can be assessed by analysing the revisions between subsequent releases. Revisions are standard practice when producing official statistics and can occur if more information becomes available, if errors are corrected or methods changed.

The revisions policy for WFJ is to open at least the previous quarter for revision. All periods are usually open in the December release to coincide with the annual benchmarking exercise and seasonal adjustment review. Revisions articles are published to explain the revisions as set out in the National Statistics Code of practice. The various WFJ sources use different reference points. The reference point for short-tem employment surveys (STES) is linked to the claimant count date and is the Friday following the second Thursday of the last month in the quarter (March for quarter one, June for quarter two, September for quarter three and December for quarter four).

The Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (115.9 Kb Pdf) uses the last working day of the last month in the quarter. The self-employment jobs series from the LFS are three-month averages centred on the employment month, for example, February to April for the first quarter.

Quarterly WFJ estimates are published in the Labour Market Statistics Release approximately two-and-a-half months after the reference month.

Background notes

  1. Enquiries relating to labour market statistics should be directed to Richard Clegg, Labour Market Division, Office for National Statistics.

    Phone +44 (0)1633 455400

    Email labour.market@ons.gsi.gov.uk

  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Supporting information

Further information

Interpreting Labour Market Statistics - The purpose of this article is to help users of labour market statistics interpret the statistics and highlight some common misunderstandings.
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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