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Volume 487: debated on Monday 9 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many economically inactive people of working age wanted employment in each of the last five years. (254493)

I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Karen Dunnell, dated February 2009:

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many economically inactive people of working age wanted employment in each of the last five years. (254493)

The information requested is provided in the attached table. The estimates are consistent with those published in Table 13 of the Labour Market Statistics First Release Historical Supplement, which is available on the National Statistics website via the following link:

The estimates are derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). As with any sample survey, estimates from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty.

Economically inactive people1 of working age2 who want a job—three month period ending November, 2004 to 2008—United Kingdom, seasonally adjusted

Total (thousand)











1 Economically inactive people are neither in employment nor unemployed. The number of economically inactive people who want a job comprises: those who have not been looking for work in the last four weeks but who say that they would like to have a regular paid job; plus, those that have been looking for work but who were unable to start work within two weeks.

2 Men aged 16-64 and women aged 16-59.

3 Coefficients of Variation have been calculated as an indication of the quality of the estimates, as described below:

Guide to Quality:

The Coefficient of Variation (CV) indicates the quality of an estimate, the smaller the CV value the higher the quality. The true value is likely to lie within +/- twice the CV—for example, for an estimate of 200 with a CV of 5 per cent. we would expect the population total to be within the range 180-220.

Key Coefficient of Variation (CV) (%) Statistical robustness

* 0 = CV <5 Estimates are considered precise.

** 5 = CV <10 Estimates are considered reasonably precise.

*** 10 = CV <20 Estimates are considered acceptable.

**** CV = 20 Estimates are considered too unreliable for practical purposes.


It should be noted that the above estimates exclude people in most types of communal establishment (e.g. hotels, boarding houses, hostels, mobile home sites etc.)


Labour Force Survey