The Wage and Employment Dynamics (WED) project aims to bring together data to provide insights into the dynamics of earnings and employment. The aim is to do this by integrating data across individuals across years, jobs, income sources and employers. This is a large project, with significant potential to improve our understanding of wage and employment issues from labour market entry, through job mobility and career progression to retirement decisions.
This will entail analysis of:
- Employment: focusing on the drivers of hourly wages, part- and full-time employment, self-employment, underemployment, and retirement decisions
- Households: focusing on the structure of households and household resources and the way they affect participation in the labour market, including child care, retirement decisions, and the impact of Universal Credit (UC)
- Employer perspectives: focusing on how workers achieve wage growth both within and across firms, and how employers react to changing labour market conditions, such as shifts in skills, demand, technology and minimum wages.
At the heart of the project is the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) and New Earnings Survey (NES). These survey datasets derive from a 1% sample of all employees in employment and will be developed to provide a truly longitudinal research resource. An ASHE/NES dataset which has longitudinal integrity across workers and jobs, with consistent referencing across data sets and time, will constitute a valuable research asset in its own right.
Dependent on approval from data holders, we would undertake six major linkage projects, creating robust, documented linkages between the employee records contained in ASHE and data on:
- enterprises and establishments – contained in the Interdepartmental Business Register, (IDBR);
- personal and household characteristics – contained in the 2011 Census;
- educational attainment – contained in HESA (Higher Education Student data);
- benefit history – contained in DWP benefit records;
- pay records – contained in HMRC PAYE data;
- self-employment income – contained in HMRC Self Assessment (SA) records.
Through these various linking projects, we would endeavour to create a core data set which would allow integrated analysis of all forms of income across working lives, with the capacity to address a wide range of future analytical requirements. The end goal of the project is to turn this fully-linked dataset into a sustainable ‘wage and employment spine’ (WES), so that researchers no longer need to create new linkages each time. The linked data will be used for research purposes within the project itself, but the spine will form an ongoing resource for researchers. The intention is for the WES to form the basis for linked-data projects beyond 2022, both for academics and government agencies.
Our initial funding provides for the development of the longitudinal ASHE/NES dataset and linkage projects (1) and (2) listed above. However, bids for follow-on funding will be submitted for linkage projects (3)-(6) as soon as high-level discussions between ONS and the relevant data owners (currently ongoing) have reached the point where those data become available for linking to ASHE.