The new unemployment statistics

Bell, David (1983) The new unemployment statistics. Quarterly Economic Commentary, 8 (3). pp. 28-32. ISSN 0306-7866

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During the last few months, the government has introduced a radically different method for recording unemployment. Rather than performing a manual count of those registering as unemployed, the new system is based on the numbers collecting unemployment and supplementary benefits. The stated reasons for this change are on the grounds of economy and convenience. By abolishing the need to register in Job Centres, it is claimed that £10m per year can be saved in administrative costs. The new count is largely based on the computerised records of benefit payments. It can thus be made very speedily and cheaply. Added convenience for the unemployed is claimed because the necessity to register both at the Benefit Office and the Job Centre has been removed. This brief considers the impact of these statistical changes will have on economic decision making.