In the course of a wide ranging conversation, Jonathan Athow outlined some of the near-term changes and longer-term areas of research at the Office of National Statistics. He explained how the organisation responded quickly to the impact of the coronavirus on the UK economy, warning that some economic statistics might be subject to greater revision as additional data becomes available. An example of the rapid response was the ability of the ONS to use its surveying expertise to produce quickly its infection testing programme.
The discussion moved onto ways in which the ONS is using big data and alternative sources of commercial & financial statistics to improve its ‘real time’ measurement of the economy. For some years, statistics have shown that the UK has experienced a deceleration in productivity growth. Athow explained various pieces of analysis to unpick these issues, which have opened up new avenues of research in a complex area. This interacts with several other aspects of correctly measuring some of the key aspects of the UK: the balance sheet, including human and natural capital, or income and wealth inequality. Looking ahead to COP26 in a year’s time, Athow discussed how various climate change issues are being included into the ONS’s workload.
Jonathan Athow has an influential role as Deputy National Statistician for Economic Statistics at the ONS. He is particularly responsible for the production and transformation of economic statistics and analysis at the ONS, as well as leadership across the wider Government Statistical Service. This includes important statistics on the national accounts, inflation, trade, employment and unemployment, wages, and productivity. His career began as an economic adviser in H M Treasury, working on such areas as health and work incentives. He moved onto become chief economist at H M Revenue & Customs, before moving to the ONS in 2015. Lastly, he is a member of the Society of Professional Economists.
Sorry: IE8 cannot display our video content.