To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what work has been completed since 1997 on redefining the ratio between the number of job centre vacancies and the total number of vacancies in the economy, and the extent to which this ratio varies in different areas across the country. 
I have been asked to reply.The information requested falls within the responsibility of the national Statistician. I have asked him to reply.
Letter from Colin Mowl to Mr. Frank Field, dated 6 May 2003:
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question on what work has been completed since 1997 on redefining the ratio between the number of Jobcentre vacancies and the total number of vacancies in the economy and the extent to which this ratio varies in different areas across the country. I am replying in his absence. (110685)
Direct comparisons between Jobcentre vacancies and estimated totals of vacancies in the economy are not presently possible, as the numbers of unfilled vacancies at Jobcentres have not been published since April 2001. This is because of distortions to the data which occurred as a result of the introduction of the 'Employer Direct' initiative by Jobcentre Plus which altered the method of dealing with notified vacancies. Nevertheless, the ratio between the Jobcentre vacancies and the number of vacancies in the economy has been investigated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as part of an assessment last year of estimates of the total number of vacancies from a new survey of job vacancies now being published monthly on an experimental basis. The assessment included a review of information available from previous occasional surveys conducted on behalf of Jobcentre Plus.
Details of the ONS survey and the assessment were published in an article 'A new survey of job vacancies' in the October 2002 issue of Labour Market Trends (pages 535 to 548). On the basis of the pilot of a question on notified vacancies included in the survey, this concluded that the proportion of all vacancies notified to Jobcentres, as reported by employers, was likely to be in the range of around a third to around a half. There is no information currently available on the extent to which the proportion varies in different parts of the country.