Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Lies, damned lies and statistics

The trouble with data is that by the time you get to make sense of it, it's out of date. That means any economic data is reflecting a historical point.

When it comes to the jobs market, we have information from DETI which gives us insight into slightly different areas of the labour force at slightly different points in time.

We have an unemployment rate which refers to the last quarter of 2012 and a claimant count which refers to January.

The former shows the unemployment situation is getting worse, particularly for 18-24-year-olds, while the latter shows a steady picture with 65,000 people claiming dole.

Which is the more accurate?

Some will tell you it's the claimant count because it counts the number signing on.

The unemployment rate is from a survey and the figures come with a degree of give.

And the housing figures tell us that prices dropped 13% last year, which is no surprise.

What will be surprising is the fact the number of houses changing hands is back to a level not seen since 2007.

Historical data yes, but it will be welcomed by many.