Experimental statistics – official statistics in development

2 August 2019
Last updated:
30 June 2022

Case study: ONS's labour productivity statistics

ONS has undertaken the development of experimental statistics as part of its wider development of productivity statistics, begun in 2018. It published a development plan that it has updated with progress and further information.

OSR completed a compliance check of the experimental statistics in May 2019. We particularly welcomed ONS’s development of labour productivity data, which add additional insight to help understand the workings of the UK economy.

The OSR regulatory team found a great many positive aspects in the way that ONS produces and presents these statistics. This suite of statistics extends the reach and scope of labour productivity statistics to provide insights to more-detailed sectors within the devolved administrations and regions, and into what contributes to changes in productivity.

It is a great illustration of the principle of continually developing the statistics, to provide the insights that users need. ONS was proactive in developing insight from labour productivity data at UK and sub-UK levels. For example:

  • ONS’s Review of international best practice in the production of productivity statistics in 2018 found many aspects of labour productivity statistics to be world leading but recommended several improvements, for example increased industrial granularity and faster production speeds.
  • ONS’s article Improving estimations of labour productivity and international comparisons demonstrates the high priority that ONS attaches to meeting users’ needs for better statistics to make better decisions. The range and quality of the labour productivity data contained within both the established bulletin and the additional experimental outputs are very impressive.
  • The statistics team sought to balance the need for fresh and insightful commentary against the need for clear and consistent messages in the Labour productivity: UK statistical bulletins. It increased breadth and granularity of the data and so enabled users to answer questions such as to what extent do differences in regional productivity reflect differences in a region’s industrial mix?
  • ONS consulted the annual productivity forum in March 2019 and sought user feedback to inform the shape of the final format. We commended ONS on using different platforms to meet the different users’ needs.

Once appropriate actions have been taken by ONS to address the requirements set out in our compliance check letter, we will review extending the existing National Statistics status to these new statistics.

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