Written Answers. - Labour Force Survey.

Seamus Brennan

Ceist:

34 Mr. S. Brennan asked the Taoiseach the exact level of discrepancies found between the recent Labour Force Survey and the actual live register of unemployment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16452/96]

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

35 Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach whether the recent CSO Labour Force Survey was carried out in areas of above average unemployment, average rates of unemployment or below average employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16724/96]

Noel Ahern

Ceist:

36 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Taoiseach the reason his Department did not previously order an examination by the CSO of the differences between the Labour Force Survey and the live register. [16778/96]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 34, 35 and 36 together. The questions relate to the "Study of the Difference between the Labour Force Survey (LFS) Estimates of Unemployment and the Live Register" which the Central Statistics Office — CSO — published on Wednesday, 18 September. The CSO has continually monitored the increasing differences which have arisen since the late 1980s between the annual LFS estimates of unemployment and the corresponding live register totals. While various reasons for the differences were identified, the available information was insufficient to allow them to be quantified. The level of divergence reached 86,000 in April 1995 — a marked increase on the 1994 level.

The Government established an interdepartmental group following the publication of the Labour Force Survey results last October. The group was instructed, inter alia, to examine the reasons for the divergence between the two measures. The CSO was asked to assist in this progress and the group supported the CSO's proposal to conduct a special study in conjunction with the April 1996 Labour Force Survey, to assess directly the reasons for the difference. This was the earliest opportunity to carry out such an exercise, which involved the inclusion in the LFS of a sample of about one per cent of the live register. The Department of Social Welfare co-operated in the conduct of the study by providing a computer file covering the bulk of the live register, from which the 1 per cent sample was selected at random by the CSO. The sample was therefore representative of the live register in all areas in the State. The study was purely a statistical exercise conducted by the CSO as a quality check on the LFS. The names/addresses of those selected and their LFS responses are known only to the CSO; they are protected from disclosure under the 1993 Statistics Act which guarantees anonymity and confidentiality.

The results of the study received widespread publicity and a copy of the CSO's report is available in the Oireachtas Library. The main findings of the CSO's sample survey of persons on the live register are: in 679 out of 2,414 cases, the person on the live register was not listed as a usual resident at the address given. No specific conclusions can be drawn from this study about these persons and they have been excluded from the main results; in the main results, almost 44 per cent of the sample of persons on the live register did not describe their status as unemployed in the LFS, according to the Principal Economic Status — PES — classification, in which people describe their own situation; using the ILO economic activity classification, which takes account of job-search and availability for work, 50 per cent were not classified as unemployed; 11 per cent of the sample said they had full-time jobs; 10 per cent said they were working part-time; almost 25 per cent of the sample were classified as "others not economically active" under the ILO classification and most of these indicated that they were neither looking for nor wanted work and just under 4 per cent described themselves as retired and a similar proportion as students.
The results confirm that many persons who are not statistically classified as unemployed in the LFS are included in the live register total. Conversely, taking account of the size of the gap between the LFS and live register sources, the results also indicate that there are unemployed persons, according to the LFS definitions who are not on the live register.
Taken overall, the study shows that the most consistent estimates of unemployment are those derived from the LFS. From the middle of 1997 onwards, this survey will be conducted by the CSO on a quarterly basis.

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

39 Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach the steps, if any, which have been taken to identify those persons who apparently leaked the details of the most recent CSO Labour Force Survey to the media in advance of its publication; whether those responsible will be subjected to sanctions of any kind; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16723/96]

The initial results of the survey undertaken by the CSO were presented by officers of the CSO to officials from the Departments of Finance, Enterprise and Employment and Social Welfare and the Office of the Tánaiste, as well as of the Taoiseach's Department on the evening of Wednesday, 11 September. The findings had been the subject of discussion between officers of the CSO and the Department of Social Welfare the previous afternoon. It was always envisaged that the results of the survey would be published at the earliest opportunity. In the event they were published by the CSO on 18 September.