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Motivation for the use of small area estimation methods is the need of “local governments for accurate information for small geographical areas” or specific domains. Since 2002, ISTAT has been applying small area estimation methods to produce estimates of employment and unemployment rates for local labour market areas (D’Alò, 2008). From 2004, a unit-level EBLUP estimator with spatially autocorrelated random area effects has been introduced (D’Alò et al., 2012; D’Alò et al., 2017). ISTAT publishes these small area official statistics annually and has recently made available the estimates for the year 2019, updating the historical series starting from 2006.


The multivariate response variable is a vector composed by three dichotomous variables representing the mutually exclusive, and exhaustive, categories of labour market status (employed, unemployed and out of the labour force).  The domains of interest are specified combining the geographical areas (cities and FUAs) with age and sex groups, as required according to the target indicators. Information about model selection procedures, model predictors, as well as evaluation of model-based estimates, are reported by D’Alò et al. (2021), and the data are disseminated by Eurostat.  

Benchmarking/data validation

Traditional quality assessment of model-based estimates was carried out, e.g. comparing final model results to the direct estimates. Since the reported small area estimation project was developed in the scope of the Eurostat City Statistics initiative,  procedures for ensuring data quality defined in the Methodological Manual on City Statistics (Eurostat, 2017) were also implemented.