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Why is unemployment down 40,000, but the Live Register only down by 20,000?

Posted on December 04, 2013 by Rory O'Farrell

The latest live register figures present something of a puzzle.

Comparing to January to November 2013 with the same period last year numbers on the Live Register are down roughly 20,000 people. This is almost entirely due to a drop of new people claiming Job Seekers Benefit (new claimants are down roughly 25,000).

This suggests that it is not that more new jobs are being created, but fewer existing jobs are being destroyed (which is welcome). The Live Register does not measure unemployment, but the proportion of casual and part-time workers on the Live Register is stable. Also, according to Earnings and Labour Costs data the number of employees is up 21,900 and the number on Job Bridge and TUS type schemes is up 3,349. The Quarterly National Household Survey shows the number of employees (including those on schemes) is up 27,200.

All this makes sense.  The numbers from different sources roughly match. (It is not unusual that they don’t match entirely given different sampling methods).

However, the Quarterly National Household Survey shows that unemployment fell by 41,600. The Live Register is only down by 20,000 for the same period. This would make sense if another roughly 20,000 people on the Live Register went from unemployment to part-time or casual employment and stayed on the Live Register, but there is no evidence of this (from either the Live Register or the Quarterly National Household Survey).

The QNHS also shows an additional 28,400 extra sole traders (self-employed workers with no paid employees).

It seems that almost 30,000 people entered employment but skipped the status of being unemployed.

The administrative data and survey data do not seem to match. There seems to be strong evidence that there are genuinely 20,000 more employees, but the rest of the data is a puzzle.

Posted in: Jobs

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