Scottish government criticised for 'misusing' positive youth unemployment data

The Scottish government used 'unreliable' data to report youth unemployment rates had dropped. Picture: Getty Images
The Scottish government used 'unreliable' data to report youth unemployment rates had dropped. Picture: Getty Images
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The Scottish government has been accused of misusing statistics on youth unemployment, claiming it had decreased when in fact it has risen.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produced an experimental release of youth unemployment figures, showing it has fallen by 0.3 per cent over the last year.

These figures were shared on a government social media account, saying Scotland’s the unemployment rate among those aged 16-24 fell by 0.3 percentage points.

However, UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) yesterday told the government to clarify that the data is not considered reliable, as the figures are based on experimental data so isn’t a “national statistic”.

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The most up to date and reliable data shows that the opposite is happening, and that youth unemployment in Scotland increased by 0.8 percentage points (from 8.9% to 9.8%) in the year to July 2019.

The difference between the data sets is that National Statistics are considered fully compliant with the Code of Practice for Statistics and are based on larger samples, whereas experimental statistics are still being assessed for their suitability and quality, and are often based on a smaller sample size.

The statistics watchdog ruled that the figures used by the Scottish government, which relied on the Labour Force Survey (LFS), were not the most reliable available.

However, the Scottish government claims it used both sources when investigating youth unemployment.