Green A E, 1995, "A comparison of alternative measures of unemployment" Environment and Planning A 27(4) 535 – 556
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A comparison of alternative measures of unemployment
A E Green
Received 22 December 1993, in revised form 19 February 1994
Abstract. Local unemployment rates are frequently used as economic and social indicators at the subregional scale. However, in the early 1990s there has been increasing debate amongst social scientists, economists, and planners about the scope, coverage, and usefulness of unemployment counts and rates. This paper is concerned with comparing and contrasting information available on unemployment from three main data sources -- the Employment Department claimant count, the Census of Population, and the Labour Force Survey. The main substantive focus is on a comparison of the census and claimant-based counts for different subgroups of the population (disaggregated by age and gender) at a range of spatial scales. Analyses reveal that in some cases there are substantial variations in unemployment counts and rates derived from different data sources. It is concluded that the most appropriate way forward would appear to involve the use of alternative parallel measures of unemployment, specifically tailored to the purpose in hand. This necessitates a greater understanding on the part of users of the strengths and weaknesses of alternative sources, in order that the most appropriate measure is selected.
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