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.

Employment Down

Labour market overview, UK: June 2020

 

Early indicators for May 2020 suggest that the number of employees in the UK on payrolls is down over 600,000 compared with March 2020. The Claimant Count has continued to rise, enhancements to Universal Credit as part of the UK government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) mean an increase in the number of people eligible.

Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, covering the period up to end of April 2020, show weakening employment rates, with the self-employed and men seeing some reduction in employment. The largest changes are seen in the number of people temporarily away from work, including furloughed workers, which rose by 6 million at the end of March into April, leading to a large fall in hours worked.

  • The UK employment rate in the three months to April 2020 was estimated at 76.4%, 0.3 percentage points higher than a year earlier but 0.1 percentage points down on the previous quarter.
  • The UK unemployment rate for the three months to April 2020 was estimated at 3.9%, 0.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier but largely unchanged on the previous quarter.

Unemployment rate at 4%

UK labour market: February 2019 – ONS

October to December 2018

  • There were an estimated 1.36 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 14,000 fewer than for July to September 2018 and 100,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate (the number of unemployed people as a proportion of all employed and unemployed people) was estimated at 4.0%,
  • There were an estimated 8.63 million people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking nor available to work), 94,000 fewer than for July to September 2018 and 153,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive) was estimated at 20.9%.
  • There were an estimated 32.60 million people in work, 167,000 more than for July to September 2018 and 444,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were in work) was estimated at 75.8%
  • There were an estimated 844,000 people (not seasonally adjusted) in employment on zero-hours contracts in their main job, 57,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

 

Unemployment falling, economically inactive rising

UK labour market: October 2018 – ONS

Main points for June to August 2018

  • There were 1.36 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 47,000 fewer than for March to May 2018 and 79,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate (the number of unemployed people as a proportion of all employed and unemployed people) was 4.0%; it has not been lower since December 1974 to February 1975.
  • There were 8.75 million people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 103,000 more than for March to May 2018 but 65,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive) was 21.2%, higher than for March to May 2018 (21.0%) but lower than for year earlier (21.4%).
  • There were 32.39 million people in work, little changed compared with March to May 2018 but 289,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were in work) was 75.5%, lower than for March to May 2018 (75.7%) but higher than for a year earlier (75.1%).

Unemployment falling

UK labour market: July 2018 – ONS

  • There were 1.41 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 12,000 fewer than for December 2017 to February 2018 and 84,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate (the number of unemployed people as a proportion of all employed and unemployed people) was 4.2%, down from 4.5% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975.
  • There were 32.40 million people in work, 137,000 more than for December 2017 to February 2018 and 388,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were in work) was 75.7%, higher than for a year earlier (74.9%) and the highest since comparable records began in 1971.
  • There were 8.64 million people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 86,000 fewer than for December 2017 to February 2018 and 184,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
  • The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive) was 21.0%, lower than for a year earlier (21.5%) and the joint lowest since comparable records began in 1971.