Dear Ed,

Thank you for your letter of 23 February detailing the short review of the reintroduction of Labour Force Survey (LFS)-derived Labour Market Statistics you are undertaking. We welcome the review and look forward to hearing your insights and recommendations.

As you note, the reintroduction of LFS data in February’s labour market statistics followed the implementation of our improvement plan. To provide clarity to our users around the improvements to the LFS, we published an analytical and methodological article in advance of reintroduction. This also included recommendations around how best to assess movements in the labour market at this time. We continue to monitor operational information on the LFS closely to support our ongoing assessment for users of the LFS’s quality and we thought it useful to provide you with an overview of the latest data.

In summary, the number of achieved interviews by the LFS wave 1 main sample (excluding imputed records) was 2,450 households in January 2024, an increase of 54% compared to the achieved wave 1 in October 2023 (1,590 households interviewed). For comparison, the 2,450 interviews in January is also higher than before the reduction in the sample size in June, showing good progress is being made.

This recent increase in wave 1 may take some time to fully embed itself into results given the wave structure of the LFS.  We will keep you and our users updated with progress on how these improvements are feeding through over the coming months. Given the evidence of the effectiveness of the measures introduced to date, we plan to maintain them for the foreseeable future.

We are committed to learning lessons from our work to reintroduce the LFS as we continue towards our transition to the Transformed Labour Force Survey (TLFS). Given we anticipate that some of the areas you outlined as in focus for your review will also be relevant to our work to transition to the TLFS, we would particularly welcome you highlighting any observations to that effect.

We understand that you are looking to undertake your review at speed and are likely to report in March. We had planned to provide an update on TLFS transition plans in early March, but in order that we can draw on and respond to the advice and recommendations in your review we will now provide this update in April instead. In the meantime, our work on TLFS continues including the publication of updated user guidance for the TLFS on 5 March. This will include updates to our background user guide with the latest methodological approaches, updates to our variable mapping to include changes implemented into the survey in late 2023, and new information about derived variables.

We and our teams look forward to continuing to engage with you on the review.

Yours sincerely

Alex Lambert, Director of Social Surveys, Office for National Statistics

Liz McKeown, Director of Economic Statistics Production and Analysis, Office for National Statistics


Related Links:

ONS response to the OSR review of Labour Market Statistics

Ed Humpherson to Alex Lambert and Liz McKeown: Review of reintroduction of LFS-derived Labour Market Statistics