This report compares the latest Workforce Jobs (WFJ) estimates with the equivalent estimates of jobs from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).
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.
A spreadsheet containing Labour Force Survey and Workforce Jobs reconciliation estimates is available on the ONS website at data table X03 (79 Kb Excel sheet) .
The LFS estimate of total UK jobs for the February to April 2013 three month period is calculated by adding together the LFS figures for total employment (29.756 million) and workers with second jobs (1.084 million). On comparing this LFS UK jobs estimate (30.839 million) with the corresponding WFJ figure for March 2013, (32.297 million) the LFS total jobs estimate is lower than the WFJ figure by 1.458 million (4.7 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 decrease of 37,000 jobs (0.1 per cent) and the WFJ series shows an increase of 211,000 (0.7 per cent). On an annual basis the LFS series shows an increase of 377,000 (1.2 per cent) and the WFJ series shows an increase of 161,000 (0.5 per cent).
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 were updated in the April 2013 release to reflect some methodological improvements to the WFJ estimates implemented for the December 2012 results, as follows:
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 668,000 (2.1 per cent).
The difference between the adjusted LFS and WFJ estimates (668,000) is 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.
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