Annual Business Inquiry (ABI)
ABI is a survey of jobs in Great Britain. It is not, however, ONS's recommended source for data on jobs as the estimates in their Labour Market Statistics (which combines data from a variety of sources including the Labour Force Survey as well as ABI) is considered to be more accurate. But Labour Market Statistics only provide a limited number of job analyses and, for anything at a more detailed level, ABI is the recommended source.
Note that ABI covers Great Britain only. For jobs data for Northern Ireland, see the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment website.
- Available from: the Nomis website, selecting the tables required using the 'wizard query' facility.
- Registration required: yes.
- First survey available: 1998.
- Frequency: annual.
- Updated: December.
- Scope: Great Britain-wide (i.e. does not include Northern Ireland).
- Format: Excel.
- Files: A single spreadsheet per query containing all the requested tables.
- Documentation: none, but most of the tables are self-explanatory.
- Weighted or unweighted: weighted.
- Household income data: not applicable.
The actual ABI dataset is not publicly available. Rather, what is available is the ability to make requests for the number of jobs by selected combinations of geographic area, industry, gender and full-/part-time. This is achieved using the 'wizard query' facility on the main NOMIS page.
- The scope of ABI is employed jobs only and that it does not include people who are self-employed.
- The analysis if by where the jobs are rather than where the employees live.
Which tables to use
The first step in the NOMIS query facility is to select the dataset of interest. There are two ABI datasets, namely:
- Employee analysis: an employer survey of the number of jobs held by employees.
- Workplace analysis: a survey of the number of workplaces and their size (in terms of employees).
These two datasets are identical except that:
- The employee analysis allows a breakdown by gender and full-/part-time whilst the workplace analysis allows a breakdown by the number of employees in the workplace.
- The figures are different for the 'agriculture and fishing' industrial group because some farm-based agricultural jobs are excluded from the workplace analysis.
The second step is to select the breakdowns wanted, where the options are:
- Geography area (in terms of both the type of area and particular areas of this type).
- By industry (in terms of both the type of industry classification and the particular classifications of this type).
- By gender and full- or part-time (for the employee analysis only).
- By number of employees at the workplace (for the workplace analysis only).
The defined tables will then be made available in a single Excel spreadsheet for downloading onto your PC.
Analyses over time
The first ABI survey was in 1998 and the data refers to the jobs available within each area rather than the jobs performed by the people who live there. In principle, a longer time series could be obtained by stitching together the ABI and its predecessor, the Annual Employment Survey. In practice, however, this is not possible because the two surveys use different methods of calculation which give rather different answers at geographic levels below that of Great Britain. Such discrepancies are discussed in the ONS report of their ABI/AES reconciliation project, which recognised the extent of this problem.
This dataset is not currently used for any of the website graphs. If it were then they would use the employee analysis dataset, the 'broad industrial groups' and been supplement by relevant data for Northern Ireland (ABI is Great Britain only).