The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents a significant challenge to the UK, and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is working to ensure that the UK has the vital information needed to respond to the impact of this pandemic on our economy and society. This means we will need to ensure that information is provided faster, using new data sources and changing how our surveys operate, which includes reviewing methodology, to ensure we provide the information necessary as the situation unfolds. The overall impact on the ONS was outlined in a statement released on 19 March 2020, with further details published in another statement released on 27 March 2020. The latest statement released on 24 September 2020 was on the ONS' future analytical work programme in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The effects of the pandemic on our capacity and capability during this period means we continue to review the existing labour market releases. This action will protect the delivery and quality of our remaining outputs as well as ensuring we can respond to new demands as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, as outlined previously.
Changes to outputs are listed here, together with the effective date.
Tuesday 13 October 2020
Because of the coronavirus pandemic and the suspension of face-to-face interviewing in March, we had to make operational changes to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), particularly in the way that we contact households for interview, which moved to a "by telephone" approach. These changes have resulted in a response where certain characteristics have not been as well represented as previously. In particular, the proportion of households where people own their homes in the sample has increased and rented accommodation households has decreased. David Freeman explains more about this in his recent blog .
To mitigate the impact of this non-response bias, we have introduced housing tenure weighting from January to March 2020 onwards. This has resulted in revisions to all estimates for the periods January to March 2020 through to May to July 2020 and has consequently had an impact on the trend for a number of the published series, published in Coronavirus and its impact on the Labour Force Survey.
The following LFS content were suspended for the October 2020 release to ensure resource was available for producing the reweighted data (these datasets will be updated for the November 2020 release):
- A01 (summary of labour market statistics): most of the data have been updated, except usual weekly hours worked, employment status by educational status, and unemployment by age and duration
- A06 (employment status by educational status)
- A11 (Sampling variability)
- HOUR02 (usual weekly hours worked)
- HOUR03 (average hours worked by industry)
- UNEM01 (unemployment by age and duration)
- UNEM03 (unemployment by previous industrial sector)
- X01 (single-month LFS estimates)
- X05 (comparison of unemployment and the claimant count)
- X06 (weekly LFS estimates)
- Single-month and weekly Labour Force Survey Estimates article
Tuesday 16 June 2020
Public sector employment bulletin - all data tables were made available and any commentary was added to the Vacancies and jobs in the UK bulletin on 16 June 2020; on review, reporting of public sector employment data has now been changed to be a headline-only bulletin and was published in its new format on 15 September 2020.
Index of Labour Costs per Hour (ILCH) - bulletin and data were suspended on 16 June 2020; the latest data were published on 15 September 2020 and will continue to be published on a quarterly basis.
Wednesday 3 June 2020
- Working and workless households release - bulletin and data were suspended on 3 June, a headline-only release was published 26 August (covering data for April to June 2020) and a shortened version of the regional workless households data were published on 29 July 2020.
Tuesday 19 May
UK and non-UK people in the labour market - the article continues to be suspended, but all data tables remain available as part of the main labour market release.
Labour market flows data were suspended for 19 May release - these related to October to December 2019 and January to March 2020, and very little coronavirus pandemic impact would be covered; the following release was published as normal in August 2020, for January to March and April to June 2020.
Some of the quarterly LFS tables were suspended as resources required. The following LFS tables were suspended on 19 May, but they were published on 28 May and are now published as normal on a quarterly basis:
EMP11 (part-time and temporary workers by socio-economic classification)
- EMP13 (employment by industry)
- EMP15 (job-related training received by employees)
- EMP16 (underemployment and overemployment)
- EARN04-08 (LFS earnings tables)
Tuesday 21 April
- Labour disputes published as part of the monthly labour market release along with the annual article (which is not currently scheduled but was previously published in May) - data collection and publication will cease for the foreseeable future; data for the missing periods will not be available later.
Additional labour market response to the coronavirus pandemic
In addition to our labour market statistical releases, which include the latest data on employment, earnings, vacancies and jobs, we have also published additional analyses on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the labour market. These include analysis on self-employment, working parents, older workers and businesses' furloughing.
As homeworking became more prevalent, we explored the ability to work from home including technology as an enabler, producing further analyses on homeworking. We accelerated the roll-out of the online Labour Market Survey that was piloted last year to provide better insights on changes in employment and unemployment. This enabled us to provide in-depth analysis of coronavirus and homeworking in April. We are exploring whether we can publish early results from this on a more frequent basis. This will supplement our current LFS, which is used to produce the current headline figures. Both surveys have had questions added to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people's employment and working patterns.
Analyses have focused on the occupations of employees, exploring those in occupations with the highest potential exposure to COVID-19, key workers, and those switching occupation in the first six months of 2020.
Meeting the need for rapid and real-time data, we have published experimental data on the number of payroll employees from HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI), which continues to be developed with the addition of regional information in October 2020, and weekly estimates of Adzuna job vacancies. Our single-month and new weekly LFS estimates also offer rapid insights into the impact of the pandemic.
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