The Agents’ scores are judgement-based assessments of economic conditions, based on the Agents’ conversations with businesses.
The score for each variable ranges from +5 to -5. For the majority of variables, +5 indicates a rapidly rising level, 0 indicates an unchanged level and -5 indicates a rapidly falling level. Most scores compare the level of the variable in the past three months with that in the same period a year earlier.
The scores of some variables, such as recruitment difficulties, capacity utilisation, credit availability and profit margins instead reflect conditions relative to normal. Here, 0 indicates normal conditions, and a score of +5 or -5 indicates extreme conditions.
Wherever possible, the Agents’ scores are set relative to guidelines that are calibrated against the closest ONS data for the past twenty years or so. In many cases we calculate those such that a score of +2 is consistent with normal long-term growth rates.
Until August 2016, agents assigned scores to variables each month. After this time, when the Monetary Policy Committee changed its schedule to meet eight times per year, the agents now score eight times per year.
In June 2019, a number of changes were made to the Agents’ scores, through which some scores were discontinued. These discontinued scores are set out at the end of this document.
In November 2021, the process for producing the Agents’ scores was changed. Each score is now produced by a small group of Agents who are specialists in the topic being scored. Previously, each score was produced by taking a weighted average of 12 separate Agency scores. As a result, scores are now produced to one whole number rather than to one decimal place.