Reliability of estimates
Estimates from the ONS Annual Population Survey for January to December 2007 through to January to December 2022 are presented. The sample size in this dataset is around 11,100 households in Scotland for the latest time period.
The Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Annual Population Survey (APS) are sample surveys. As such, these estimates are subject to an associated sampling error that decreases as the sample size increases. It is the nature of sampling variability that the smaller a group is the (proportionately) less precise an estimate is. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have published a detailed guidance note on this. Shading is one method used by ONS to indicate where estimates should be used with caution. The National Statistics marking for the APS reflects the larger sample size for headline estimates of Labour Market indicators for smaller groups of the population of Scotland.
Please note that occupation related estimates are currently under revision so have not been included in this publication.
Confidence limits can be used to assess the range of values that the true value lies between. 95 per cent confidence intervals for rates are included in all tables and charts.
What does the 95 per cent confidence limit mean?
If, for example, we have an APS estimate and confidence limit of 63 per cent ± 0.27, this means that 19 times out of 20 we would expect the true rate to lie between 62.73 per cent and 63.27 per cent. Only in exceptional circumstances (1 in 20 times) would we expect the true rate to be outside the confidence interval around the APS estimate. Thus, the smaller the confidence limits, the more reliable the estimate is.
The confidence limits use a design factor of 1, which may not be likely in some cases but given the lack of further information an average design factor of 1 is assumed to be reasonable. Further information on estimating confidence intervals can be found in the LFS user guidance.
Statistical significance is based on 95 per cent Confidence Intervals. Statistical significance means that the change was large enough that it is unlikely to have resulted only from the variable nature of the sample.
Annual Population Survey microdata is collected and produced by the ONS. Scottish Government statisticians receive early access to perform quality assurance checks.
When producing estimates for this publication, Scottish Government statisticians conduct in-depth quality assurance.
These checks include:
- analysis of the sample size obtained in the collection process
- production of estimates from the microdata using statistical software and relevant coding
- cross checking of coding between team members
Further checks relate to:
- coherence across all data tables
- crosschecking historical time series data with previously published results
- benchmarking the results against other relevant data sources
These statistics are produced by Scottish Government Labour Market Statisticians. Labour Market Statistics is located within the Labour Market and Employability Statistics Unit, part of the Office of the Chief Economic Advisor. Labour Market Statistics are used for policy monitoring, research, services planning and delivery.
The APS is used to measure a number of indicators in the Scottish Government National Performance Framework (NPF). The estimates help to measure progress towards high level outcomes, Education and Fair Work and Business.
The APS was also used to provide statistics for the A Fairer Scotland for All: An Anti-Racist Employment Strategy. Another analytical paper was published alongside the strategy. This also informs the Equality Data Improvement Programme.
A range of labour market statistics for Scotland, including disability, are available on the Scottish Government website.
The Scottish Government is committed to delivering a lifetime upskilling and retraining offer that is straightforward, accessible, and ambitious.
We are working closely with partners, including our skills agencies to develop our approach to lifelong learning to support individuals and businesses to develop the skills needed now and in the future.
Our ambition to tackle inequality and eradicate child poverty will be at the heart of our lifetime skills offer which will target working age people in or at risk of poverty.
If you have any enquiries relating to Labour Market Statistics then please contact us at:
Telephone: 0131 244 6773
Fax: 0300 244 1060
Labour Market Statistics
OCEAES: Economic Development, Enterprise and Labour Market Analysis
5 Atlantic Quay
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You may also contact the Statistician Group Enquiries for general information.
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