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.
The LFS estimate of total UK jobs for February - April 2012 is calculated by adding together the LFS figures for total employment (29.281 million) and workers with second jobs (1.138 million). On comparing this LFS UK jobs estimate (30.419 million) with the corresponding WFJ figure for March 2012 (31.885 million), the LFS estimate is lower than the WFJ figure by 1.466 million (4.8 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 187,000 jobs (0.6 per cent) and the WFJ series shows an increase of 357,000 (1.1 per cent). On an annual basis the LFS series shows an increase of 36,000 (0.1 per cent) and the WFJ series shows an increase of 544,000 (1.7 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 estimates of temporary foreign workers and over-counting of self-employed are discussed in the article “ Comparison of Statistics on Jobs: September 2007 (132.9 Kb Pdf) ” published in Economic & Labour Market Review, March 2008.
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 276,000 (0.9 per cent).
The difference between the adjusted LFS and WFJ estimates (276,000) is within the bounds of the sampling variability of the difference. The 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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