In common with other Government Departments, my Department looks to the International Labour Organisation(ILO) measurement of unemployment in the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), as the primary measure of unemployment.
The QNHS uses the International Labour Office (ILO) standards for the measurement of employment and unemployment. These standards establish objective criteria which allow the proper identification of the employment status of individuals based on their activity. By applying these standards, the QNHS allows estimates to be derived which are comparable with other countries. It is also consistent in application over time thereby facilitating a trend analysis which is critical from a policy perspective. This approach is in accordance with international practice whereby estimates based on ILO standards are seen as the preferable source of estimates of unemployment, rather than registered unemployment figures such as those based on the Live Register in Ireland or those derived from the Census.
The Census is different in several respects from the QNHS. The main differences are that the Census uses a subjective question relating to a person's Principal Economic Status (PES), whereas the ILO definition used in the QNHS is a much more strict definition of unemployment, and therefore tends to be lower. To be unemployed under the ILO definition, persons must be without work in the week before the survey and available for work within the next two weeks, and had taken specific steps, in the preceding four weeks, to find work. The ILO definition is internationally recognised and is used for cross country comparisons. In addition, the mode of the survey used in the Census is very different as a responsible adult must provide information for members of the household, while the QNHS is administered by way of a face to face interview. Accordingly, the unemployment information collected on the Census is not comparable to the QNHS. The Live Register is not used to measure unemployment, as it can, for example, include people who are working part-time. It is, however, used as an indicator of changes in the trend in the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate as it is more up-to-date than the QNHS.