As we have previously highlighted, falling response rates for household surveys are affecting national statistics institutes internationally. In October 2023, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suspended publication of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) when its response rates led to increased data uncertainty.

Since then we have been working to implement an improved method for non-response bias and update the population estimates used to allow us to publish an LFS-based dataset again.

While this work is progressing well, we need further time to complete quality assurance before we can publish an LFS-based dataset using these new adjusted data. As such, this month’s labour market publication will continue to use the adjusted series produced using administrative data that we have published in recent months.

As with previous reweightings of our surveys, we will publish a methods article in the coming weeks containing the adjusted data and explaining the improvements that are being made to the LFS, as well as the impacts of these improvements on headline estimates, ahead of the reintroduction of a fuller LFS-based dataset in the February 2024 publication.

The new timetable for reintroducing an LFS dataset gives us additional time to produce more comprehensive methodological information and insight on the impact of the population reweighting. This will enable us to provide additional support to users in the interpretation and use of the reweighted data.

Alongside the methods improvements that are being implemented, in January 2024 when the new wave 1 of the survey hit the field, we increased the size of the sample. This was in addition to the reintroduction of face-to-face interviews and increased incentives for responders introduced in the autumn.

The reintroduction of face-to-face interviews and the increased incentives are already leading to increased response rates. Once the boost to the sample also begins to feed through, it will further increase confidence in the published headline data.

Meanwhile our long-term solution continues to be the online-first Transformed Labour Force Survey (TLFS). And our plan remains to transition to using it as our lead measure in the first half of 2024. We aim to share early indicative analysis ahead of this transition in the spring.