Employment in the UK: January 2023

Estimates of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity for the UK.

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Cyswllt:
Email Bob Watson

Dyddiad y datganiad:
17 January 2023

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
14 February 2023

2. Main points

  • September to November 2022 estimates show an increase in the unemployment rate compared with the previous three-month period (June to August 2022) and a decrease in the economic inactivity rate, while the employment rate remained largely unchanged.

  • Total hours worked decreased compared with the previous three-month period and remain below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels.

  • The UK employment rate was estimated at 75.6%, largely unchanged compared with the previous three-month period and 1.0 percentage point lower than before the coronavirus pandemic (December 2019 to February 2020).

  • The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.7%, 0.2 percentage points higher than the previous three-month period and 0.3 percentage points below pre-coronavirus levels.

  • The UK economic inactivity rate was estimated at 21.5%, 0.1 percentage points lower than the previous three-month period and 1.3 percentage points higher than before the coronavirus pandemic.

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3. Coronavirus (COVID-19) and measuring the labour market

Latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates are based on interviews that took place from September to November 2022.

Because of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the suspension of face-to-face interviewing, we had to make operational changes to the LFS, which moved to a by-telephone approach. This introduced an increased non-response bias to the survey, which was partially mitigated by the introduction of housing tenure-based weights into the survey in October 2020, as detailed in Coronavirus and its impact on the Labour Force Survey.

However, it was acknowledged that further improvement work was required to deal with the increase in non-response from those with a non-UK country of birth or nationality. As a result, a new weighting methodology was introduced in July 2021. Further information is available in Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators, UK: 2022.

The population totals used for the latest LFS estimates use projected growth rates from real-time information (RTI) data for UK, EU and non-EU populations based on 2021 patterns. The total population used for the LFS therefore does not take into account any changes in migration, birth rates, death rates and so on since June 2021 and hence levels estimates may be under- or over-estimating the true values and should be used with caution. Estimates of rates will, however, be robust.

More about economy, business and jobs

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4. Summary

Figure 1: September to November 2022 estimates show an increase in the unemployment rate and a decrease in the economic inactivity rate, while the employment rate was largely unchanged

UK employment, unemployment and economic inactivity rates, seasonally adjusted, between September to November 2007 and September to November 2022

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During the first year of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there was a decrease in the employment rate and increases in the economic inactivity and unemployment rates for both men and women. However, the unemployment rates for both men and women have now returned to levels similar to those seen before the coronavirus pandemic (Figure 2).

The increase in the unemployment rate and the decrease in the economic inactivity rate in the latest three-month period were largely among men.

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5. Employment

Following an increase in the employment rate since early 2012, the rate decreased from the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. There has been an increase since the end of 2020; however, the employment rate was largely unchanged during the latest three-month period.

The number of full-time employees increased during the latest three-month period and are still above pre-coronavirus levels. Part-time employees had generally been decreasing since the beginning of 2022; however, there was an increase during the latest three-month period.

The number of self-employed workers fell in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic and, while the full-time self-employed have remained low, the part-time self-employed increased during the latest three-month period (Figure 3).

Meanwhile, the number of people with second jobs decreased slightly during the latest three-month period, down 12,000 to 1.227 million.

Hours worked

Total actual weekly hours worked in the UK have been generally increasing since the relaxation of coronavirus lockdown measures. However, compared with the previous three-month period, total actual weekly hours worked decreased by 10 million hours to 1.04 billion hours in September to November 2022 (Figure 4). This is still 16.3 million hours below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels (December 2019 to February 2020).

Total actual weekly hours worked by both men and women decreased in the latest three-month period. The level for men remains below pre-pandemic levels while the level for women is above pre-pandemic levels.

After falling sharply in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, average actual weekly hours worked have now returned to levels similar to those seen before the pandemic, although they fell in the latest three-month period. The shortfall in total actual weekly hours compared with pre-coronavirus levels is therefore largely the result of fewer people in employment.

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6. Unemployment

The unemployment rate had generally been falling since late 2013 until the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It increased until the end of 2020 but has now returned to pre-coronavirus levels. Over the latest three-month period, the unemployment rate increased.

In the latest three-month period, the number of people unemployed for up to six months increased, largely among those aged 16 to 24 years. Those unemployed for over six months and up to 12 months also increased, while those unemployed for over 12 months decreased in the latest period (Figure 5).

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7. Economic inactivity

Since comparable records began in 1971, the economic inactivity rate had generally been falling; however, it increased during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It decreased in September to November 2022 compared with the previous three-month period.

During the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, increases in economic inactivity were largely among those aged 16 to 24 years. This group had generally been decreasing since early 2021 but has increased in recent periods (Figure 6). More recent increases in economic inactivity were also among those aged 50 to 64 years, with over 54% of the increase in economic inactivity during the pandemic (since December 2019 to February 2020) being driven by this age group. More detail on this trend is available in Movements out of work for those aged over 50 years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, published on 14 March 2022.

However, in the latest three-month period (September to November 2022), those aged 16 to 24 years and 50 to 64 years drove the decrease in economic inactivity.

The increase in economic inactivity since the start of the coronavirus pandemic was largely among those who were students and the long-term sick (Figure 7).

The decrease in economic inactivity during the latest three-month period (September to November 2022) was largely among those inactive because they were students, retired or long-term sick.

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8. Redundancies

In September to November 2022, the number of people reporting redundancy in the three months before interview increased by 1.1 per thousand employees compared with the previous three-month period, to 3.4 per thousand employees (Figure 8).

We are now also publishing a table showing potential redundancies, covering those notified by employers to the Insolvency Service through the HR1 form, broken down by region and industry.

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9. Employment in the UK data

Employment, unemployment and economic inactivity by age group (seasonally adjusted)
Dataset A05 SA | Released 17 January 2023
Employment, unemployment and economic activity and inactivity by age group (seasonally adjusted). These estimates are sourced from the Labour Force Survey, a survey of households.

Full-time, part-time and temporary workers (seasonally adjusted)
Dataset EMP01 SA | Released 17 January 2023
Full-time, part-time and temporary workers (seasonally adjusted). These estimates are sourced from the Labour Force Survey, a survey of households.

Actual weekly hours worked (seasonally adjusted)
Dataset HOUR01 SA | Released 17 January 2023
Actual weekly hours worked (seasonally adjusted). These estimates are sourced from the Labour Force Survey, a survey of households.

Unemployment by age and duration (seasonally adjusted)
Dataset UNEM01 SA | Released 17 January 2023
Unemployment by age and duration (seasonally adjusted). These estimates are sourced from the Labour Force Survey, a survey of households.

Economic inactivity by reason (seasonally adjusted)
Dataset INAC01 SA | Released 17 January 2023
Economic inactivity (aged 16 to 64 years) by reason (seasonally adjusted). These estimates are sourced from the Labour Force Survey, a survey of households.

Impact of LFS reweighting on key Labour Force Survey indicators
Dataset X08 | Released 14 June 2022
Estimates of key Labour Force Survey indicators using both old and new weighting methodology, and the revisions between the two series.

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10. Glossary

Actual and usual hours worked

Statistics for usual hours worked measure how many hours people usually work per week. Compared with actual hours worked, they are not affected by absences and so can provide a better measure of normal working patterns. For example, a person who usually works 37 hours a week but who was on holiday for a week would be recorded as working zero actual hours for that week, while usual hours would be recorded as 37 hours.

Workers temporarily absent from a job as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic would still be classed as employed; however, they would be employed working no hours. This has directly affected estimates of total actual hours worked during the coronavirus pandemic. Since the average actual weekly hours are the average of all in employment, those temporarily absent from a job also affected these estimates.

Claimant Count

The Claimant Count is an Experimental Statistic that measures the number of people who are receiving a benefit principally for the reason of being unemployed. Currently the Claimant Count consists of those receiving Jobseekers' Allowance, and Universal Credit claimants in the "searching for work" conditionality group.

Economic inactivity

People not in the labour force (also known as economically inactive) are not in employment but do not meet the internationally accepted definition of unemployment because they have not been seeking work within the last four weeks and/or are unable to start work in the next two weeks. The economic inactivity rate is the proportion of people aged between 16 and 64 years who are not in the labour force.

Employment

Employment measures the number of people in paid work or who had a job that they were temporarily away from (for example, because they were on holiday or off sick). This differs from the number of jobs because some people have more than one job. The employment rate is the proportion of people aged between 16 and 64 years who are in employment.

Workers furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), or those who were self-employed but temporarily not in work, had a reasonable expectation of returning to their jobs after a temporary period of absence. Therefore, they were classified as employed under the International Labour Organization (ILO) definition.

A more detailed explanation is available in our Guide to labour market statistics.

Redundancies

The redundancy estimates measure the number of people who were made redundant or who took voluntary redundancy in the three months before the Labour Force Survey interviews; it does not take into consideration planned redundancies.

Unemployment

Unemployment measures people without a job who have been actively seeking work within the last four weeks and are available to start work within the next two weeks. The unemployment rate is not the proportion of the total population that is unemployed. It is the proportion of the economically active population (that is, those in work plus those seeking and available to work) that is unemployed.

A more detailed glossary is available.

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11. Measuring the data

This bulletin relies on data collected from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the largest household survey in the UK.

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in our LFS Quality and Methodology Information (QMI) report.

The LFS performance and quality monitoring reports provide data on response rates and other quality-related issues for the LFS.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

View more information on how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

View a comparison of our labour market data sources and the main differences.

Making our published spreadsheets accessible

Following the Government Statistical Service (GSS) guidance on releasing statistics in spreadsheets, we will be amending our published tables over the coming months to improve usability, accessibility and machine readability of our published statistics. To help users change to the new formats, we will be publishing sample versions of a selection of our tables, and where practical, initially publish the tables in both the new and current formats. If you have any questions or comments, please email labour.market@ons.gov.uk.

Occupational data in ONS surveys

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has identified an issue with the collection of some occupational data in a number of our surveys, including the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Annual Population Survey (APS), which are used in the production of the labour market publication. While we estimate any impacts will be small overall, this will affect the accuracy of the breakdowns of some detailed (four-digit Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC)) occupations, and data derived from them.

On 26 September 2022, we published an article based on initial analysis of the potential impact on different four-digit SOC codes. We advise to continue exercising caution in the use of detailed SOC breakdowns until the issue has been corrected.

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12. Strengths and limitations

Uncertainty in these data

The estimates presented in this bulletin contain uncertainty.

The figures in this bulletin come from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), which gathers information from a sample of households across the UK rather than from the whole population. The sample is designed to be as accurate as possible, given practical limitations. Results from sample surveys are always estimates, not precise figures. This can have an impact on how changes in the estimates should be interpreted, especially for short-term comparisons.

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The data in this bulletin come from the Labour Force Survey, a survey of households. It is not practical to survey every household each quarter, so these statistics are estimates based on a large sample.

As the sample gets smaller, the variability of the estimates gets larger. Estimates for small groups, which are based on small subsets of the LFS sample, are less reliable and tend to be more volatile than for larger aggregated groups.

In general, changes in the numbers (and especially the rates) reported in this bulletin between three-month periods are small and are not usually greater than the level that can be explained by sampling variability. Short-term movements in reported rates should be considered alongside longer-term patterns in the series and corresponding movements in other sources to give a fuller picture.

Information on the quality of estimates is available in our Labour Force Survey sampling variability table.

Comparability

The data in this bulletin follow internationally accepted definitions specified by the International Labour Organization (ILO). This ensures that the estimates for the UK are comparable with those for other countries.

Our annual reconciliation report of job estimates article compares the latest workforce jobs series estimates with the equivalent estimates of jobs from the LFS. It is usually published in March each year following the benchmarking of Workforce Jobs. The 2022 article was postponed to October to allow for the reweighting of the data. Further information is available in A guide to labour market statistics.

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14. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistical (ONS), released 17 January 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Employment in the UK: January 2023.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Bob Watson
labour.market@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 1633 455400