Today, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published its National Statistics assessment report on the employment and jobs statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The report highlights the need for statistics on employment and jobs to reflect changes in the labour market and the wider economy. The COVID-19 outbreak is likely to have a significant impact on the economy and will inevitably be a further source of change to the labour market, and ONS is taking sensible steps to adapt its data collection approach to this unprecedented situation.

Employment and jobs statistics are key economic indicators that are essential for understanding the patterns and dynamics of the UK labour market. They are used widely by the UK Government, the Bank of England and wider users in society to develop and monitor government policies.

The report finds that:

  • There is an increasing demand to capture all aspects of employment and jobs statistics, for example, measures of job quality and data on the self-employed.
  • Uncertainty is not properly reflected in the messaging, meaning readers might jump to the conclusion that the figures are more precise than they really are.

Each of these issues is likely to be magnified by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, said:

“Our report identifies areas of good practice. We also find a need for honest recognition of the uncertainty around the headline figures on employment, and an increasing demand for good quality data on self-employment, measures of job quality, vacancies and data on emerging industries and sectors.”

He concluded:

“OSR recognises that these improvements create a challenge for ONS, especially at the current time when COVID-19 is dramatically changing the way that Labour Force Survey data are collected. We support ONS’s  work to maintain data quality while prioritising the protection of the health of survey respondents and the interviewer field force during the current crisis. We also recognise that the short-term response may influence data collection and statistical production beyond the lifespan of the outbreak. We encourage ONS to ensure that users are fully informed of the latest developments, and implications for the use of the statistics.”



Notes to Editors

  • The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics. The Code of Practice for Statistics applies to everyone in an organisation producing official statistics, including senior leaders, policy professionals, communications staff and other analysts. Official statistics should be compiled to the highest standards of quality to ensure decision-making is based on sound evidence.
  • We assess statistics against the standards set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Under legislation, assessment is the only tool that allows us to confer National Statistics status on official statistics. We must assess compliance with the Code in response to requests made by a producer in relation to any official statistic. National Statistics status tells users that the statistics comply with the Code and meet and the highest standards of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.

Statistics are an essential public asset. OSR ensures public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics produced by government. For more information please contact Suzanne Halls on 07411 212300, email or visit the OSR website.


Related Links:

Assessment of the UK employment and jobs statistics (March 2020)

Assessment Report: UK employment and jobs statistics (March 2020)

Devolved Labour Market Compliance Check (March 2020)