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UK to release experimental jobless data instead of standard numbers

by Jessica Weisman-Pitts
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2023 10 23T112522Z 2 LYNXMPEJ9M0AB RTROPTP 4 BRITAIN ECONOMY JOBS

UK to release experimental jobless data instead of standard numbers

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it would publish an experimental adjusted estimate of Britain’s unemployment rate on Tuesday, instead of its usual labour market survey which has suffered from a falling response rate.

“Tomorrow we will publish a new series using additional data sources to produce adjusted levels and rates for employment, unemployment and inactivity for the latest two 3-monthly periods,” the ONS said in a statement on Monday.

“We will not be publishing the unadjusted June to August LFS (Labour Force Survey) data tomorrow.”

The ONS last Tuesday published some of its monthly jobs market data but delayed by a week the release of figures from its LFS survey, which has been increasingly hampered by low response rates.

The Bank of England is monitoring Britain’s labour market closely as it considers whether it needs to resume raising interest rates, having opted to keep them on hold in September after 14 hikes in a row.

Britain’s unemployment rate has edged up in recent months and last week’s partial data release showed growth in regular pay for workers slowed marginally from a previous record high.

In August the ONS said fewer working people were replying to the LFS survey and it was producing results which were inconsistent with tax data and surveys of employers.

The ONS said then that it would introduce new collection methods to improve response rates in the spring of 2024, and reweight the existing data from October’s release onwards.

Earlier this month, it delayed this reweighting until 2024.

“We will continue to publish our best estimates of the labour market during the move towards the transformed survey, but will keep our methods under review,” an ONS spokesperson said on Tuesday, when asked if the latest change was permanent.

The experimental data – a term the ONS uses for statistics which are under development and are less certain – will cover the unemployment rate, employment numbers and activity rates for the three months to August and the three months to July.

Separate data on unemployment benefit claims in September will be published as normal.

(Writing by William Schomberg and David Milliken, editing by Andy Bruce)