What’s happening in the labour market?

Labour market overview, UK: July 2020 – ONS

For March to May 2020:

  • the estimated UK unemployment rate for all people was 3.9%; 0.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier but largely unchanged on the quarter
  • the estimated UK unemployment rate for men was 4.0%; this is 0.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier but 0.2 percentage points down on the quarter
  • the estimated UK unemployment rate for women was 3.8%; this is 0.2 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.1 percentage points higher on the quarter

A larger than usual proportion of those leaving employment are not currently looking for a new job and therefore becoming economically inactive, rather than unemployed. In addition, an increased number of respondents who were previously unemployed have moved to economic inactivity in March to May 2020, suggesting that some who were previously unemployed are no longer looking for work.

For March to May 2020:

  • the estimated economic inactivity rate for all people was 20.4%; this is down by 0.4 percentage points on the year but up 0.2 percentage points on the quarter
  • the estimated economic inactivity rate for men was 16.5%; this is up by 0.1 percentage points on the year and up a joint record high of 0.5 percentage points on the quarter
  • the estimated economic inactivity rate for women was 24.3%; this is down by 0.9 percentage points on the year and down by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter

Those who are economically inactive and who want a job increased by a record 257,000 on the year and a record 253,000 on the quarter, while those who do not want a job decreased by a record 414,000 on the year and 161,000 on the quarter. This suggests that people who want employment are not currently looking for work, and further explains why we are not seeing a large rise in unemployment.

For March to May 2020:

  • the estimated employment rate for all people was 76.4%; this is 0.3 percentage points up on the year but 0.2 percentage points down on the quarter
  • the estimated employment rate for men was 80.1%; this is 0.1 percentage points down on the year and 0.4 percentage points down on the quarter
  • the estimated employment rate for women was 72.7%; this is 0.7 percentage points up on the year but largely unchanged on the quarter

Despite the estimated fall in employment of 126,000 on the quarter, the estimated number of redundancies has not increased significantly over the period. Instead, experimental estimates based on returns for individual weeks suggest the number of respondents starting a new job declined greatly through the March to May period compared with the same period in previous years.

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