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Reconciliation of Estimates of Jobs, April 2013 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 17 April 2013 Download PDF

Abstract

This report compares the latest Workforce Jobs (WFJ) estimates with the equivalent estimates of jobs from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

Background

This report compares the latest Workforce Jobs (WFJ) estimates with the equivalent estimates of jobs from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). This is produced every quarter, when the latest WFJ estimates are released.

The concept of employment (measured by the LFS as the number of people in work) differs from the concept of jobs, since a person can have more than one job, and some jobs may be shared by more than one person. The LFS, which collects information mainly from residents of private households, is the preferred source of statistics on employment.

The LFS can also be used to produce estimates of the total number of jobs in the UK, by adding together the headline employment figures (which are equivalent to main jobs) and those for workers with a second job. The WFJ series, which is compiled mainly from surveys of businesses, is the preferred source of statistics on jobs by industry, since it provides a more reliable industry breakdown than the LFS.

Comparison: December 2012

The LFS estimate of total UK jobs for the November 2012 - January 2013 three month period is calculated by adding together the LFS figures for total employment (29.732 million) and workers with second jobs (1.144 million). On comparing this LFS UK jobs estimate (30.876 million) with the corresponding WFJ figure for December 2012, (32.102 million)  the LFS total jobs estimate is lower than the WFJ figure by 1,226 million (4.0 per cent).

Chart 1 illustrates this comparison over time. These estimates have not been adjusted for factors causing differences between the two sources because many of these factors cannot be measured on a quarterly basis. Over the latest comparable quarterly periods, the LFS series shows a quarterly increase of 153,000 jobs (0.5 per cent) and the WFJ series shows an increase of 4,000 (0.0 per cent). On an annual basis the LFS series shows an increase of 618,000 (2.0 per cent) and the WFJ series shows a increase of 406,000 (1.3 per cent).

Reconciliation

The 2006 National Statistics Quality Review of Employment and Jobs Statistics  (4.46 Mb Pdf) identified about 30 reasons why the LFS and WFJ estimates of jobs can differ from each other. Some of these factors can be quantified approximately using information from the LFS and other sources, while others are much more difficult to measure. The measurable factors causing differences between the LFS and WFJ figures are included in a downloadable spreadsheet within the ‘download chart’ option of this report.

The measurable factors have been updated for this release to reflect some methodological improvements to the WFJ estimates implemented for the December 2012 results, as follows:

  1. Working owners, which comprise sole traders, sole proprietors and partners, are now included in the employee jobs category instead of self-employed jobs as in the past. The estimates for these jobs are now derived from the ONS employer surveys rather than the LFS. Consequently such individuals have been removed the adjustment made to account for the over-reporting of self-employment derived from the LFS, reducing the downwards adjustment from around 450,000 to around 130,000.
  2. Individuals employed by private households (Section T of the Standard Industrial Classification 2007) are now included in WFJ estimates. Consequently this industry section has been removed from the component measuring the non-coverage of jobs in the WFJ.
  3. The estimated factor related to response errors in the WFJ estimates is no longer required.

Chart 2 shows the two jobs series adjusted to take into account the measurable factors causing differences between the LFS and WFJ statistics. Once these factors have been taken into consideration, the adjusted LFS estimate of total UK jobs is lower than the adjusted WFJ estimate, by 336,000 (1.1 per cent).

The difference between the adjusted LFS and WFJ estimates (336,000) does not appear to be beyond the likely bounds of the sampling variability of the difference. The approximate sampling variability (95% confidence interval) is roughly ± 300,000 to ± 400,000. However, it should be noted that the adjustments are themselves subject to a margin of uncertainty, and there are other factors causing differences between the two sources which have not been adjusted for. There are about 20 additional factors that could explain the remaining difference between the LFS and WFJ estimates. As well as sampling variability, they include, for example, timing effects. The LFS estimates are averages for three month periods, whereas business surveys measure the number of jobs on a particular day.

Chart 1: LFS and WFJ estimates of jobs, as published

Seasonally adjusted (thousands)

Seasonally adjusted (thousands)
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Chart 2: LFS and WFJ estimates of jobs, adjusted for measurable differences

Seasonally adjusted (thousands)

Seasonally adjusted (thousands)
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

Download chart

Background notes

  1. 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

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

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