Skip to main content

Statistics: Unemployed

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what definition of long-term unemployed is used to produce statistics on long-term unemployed people; and how those statistics are calculated. (244068)

[holding answer 16 December 2008]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated 16 December 2008:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question, asking what definition of long-term unemployed is used to produce statistics on long-term unemployed people; and how those statistics are calculated. (244068)

Official estimates of unemployment are derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). They are calculated in accordance with the definition agreed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), that is, people are unemployed if they are without a job, want a job, have actively sought work in the last four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks, or if they are out of work, have found a job and are going to start it in the next two weeks.

The duration of unemployment is measured in terms of calendar months and years and relates to the length of time looking for work, and the length of time since the respondent’s last job.

The ONS has no official definition for long-term unemployment. However, for the LFS, long-term unemployment is usually regarded as unemployment with a duration of one year or more.

Under the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) there is a category for “long-term unemployed” but users must decide their own definition, according to their research purposes.