UK statistics agency delays interim changes to unemployment data

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Office for National Statistics said on Friday that it was delaying interim changes to improve the accuracy of its main data on unemployment for another month.

Low response rates to the ONS’s main Labour Force Survey (LFS) mean that since July it has been extrapolating from previous unemployment data using separate government tax records and data on unemployment benefit claims.

The ONS has been working on some temporary improvements to better account for population growth and low response rates, but said it was not ready to implement them for data due for publication on Tuesday.

“While this work is progressing well, we need further time to complete quality assurance before we can publish an LFS-based dataset using these new adjusted data,” the ONS said in a statement.

“As such, this month’s labour market publication will continue to use the adjusted series produced using administrative data that we have published in recent months.”

The ONS added that it aimed to have the changes ready for February’s release.

More comprehensive plans to revamp its surveying methods were still on track to be implemented towards the end of the first half of 2024, the ONS added.

(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by William James)