ONS

Business users breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday after the UK’s statistics authorities announced they have decided against scrapping the 200-year-old census. They plan instead to replace paper forms mailed to households with an online questionnaire. 

Emily Cadman

Beneath Wednesday’s headline estimation the UK’s population will rise by just under 10 million over the next 25 years is a trove of data set to be picked over by statisticians.

Whilst the Office for National Statistics stresses the numbers are not forecasts and do not predict the impact of future policies, the numbers form the basis for a host of policy calculations – notably in health, education, housing and pensions. Here are a few of the key underlying trends: 

Kate Allen

The number of working-age households in the UK has fallen for the first time since data collection began nearly 20 years ago, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Household growth has been fairly steady over the past two decades, with the overall population continuing to grow, and this is the first time figures* have actually dropped. Pressures such as low real wage growth and rising housing costs have created economic constraints in recent years which could help to explain the dramatic shift.

UK households

In particular, the numbers of single-person and lone parent households have fallen, hinting at housing affordability pressures. The number of couples with dependent children (under 18s) rose year-on-year, suggesting that families may be staying together rather than separating. 

Kate Allen

It’s the big demographic story you haven’t even heard of – or is it?

Since the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition came to power in May 2010, British people have been leaving the country in droves.

The number of British emigrants has risen from 128,000 to 154,000 in the past three years, while those returning to Britain has fallen from 96,000 to 79,000. The consequence is that British net migration has more than doubled.

British migration

But hold fire – all is not what it seems.

The change in emigration numbers is within the margin of error – it’s not statistically significant. In layman’s terms, that means the variations are random noise, not a meaningful change.

Let this be a clear warning: you may not know what you think you know. 

Emily Cadman

Earnings growth, unemployment numbers, the number of people in work. All vital barometers of the UK’s economic picture and the reason why the monthly ONS labour market statistics report never fails to make headline news.

But alongside these well known statistics, there are a few lesser viewed numbers worth keeping an eye on to gain a more nuanced picture of the labour market.

Actual hours worked

As it says on the tin, this estimates the actual number of hours worked in the economy, seasonally adjusted. In May, this hit a new high – above the pre-recession peak.

 

Kate Allen

“Oh we do like to be beside the seaside, oh we do like to be beside the sea”, as the classic English music-hall song goes. But for many people, that’s no longer the case. British seaside towns – once the bastion of the country’s summer economy – now have the nation’s highest levels of insolvency, according to a data analysis by the Office for National Statistics.

Four of the five highest rates of insolvencies in 2011 (per 10,000 adult population) were areas containing seaside towns, and they make up just under half of the top 20.

Highest rates of insolvencies 2011