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Guide to Economic Inactivity

Released: 14 November 2012 Download PDF

Abstract

The number of economically inactive people in the UK is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and consists of people aged 16 and over without a job who have not sought work in the last four weeks and/or are not available to start work in the next two weeks. The main economically inactive groups are students, people looking after family and home, long term sick and disabled, temporarily sick and disabled, retired people and discouraged workers.

More detail

The number of economically inactive people in the UK is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and consists of people aged 16 and over without a job who have not sought work in the last four weeks and/or are not available to start work in the next two weeks. The main economically inactive groups are students, people looking after family and home, long term sick and disabled, temporarily sick and disabled, retired people and discouraged workers.

The headline measure of inactivity for the UK is the inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64. Estimates of inactivity are also available for former Government Office Regions (GORs) and at local area level. Regional estimates of total inactivity are measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) while more disaggregated regional inactivity estimates and local area estimates are measured by the Annual Population Survey (APS).

The characteristics of people who are economically inactive vary depending on their reason for inactivity. For example, students tend to be young and at the start of their working lives. Those looking after the family and home tend to be female and of child rearing age and retirees tend to be close to retirement age.

Inactivity levels and rates are published each month in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin. Estimates are available by sex, by age and by reason for inactivity. Inactivity levels measure the total number of people estimated to be economically inactive while inactivity rates allow changes in the labour market to be interpreted in a wider context by allowing for changes in the population.

Estimates of inactivity levels and rates for the UK are available from 1971. Most other inactivity estimates are available from 1993.

Background notes

  1. Enquiries relating to labour market statistics should be directed to Richard Clegg, Labour Market Division, Office for National Statistics.

    Phone +44 (0)1633 455400

    Email labour.market@ons.gsi.gov.uk

  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Supporting information

Further information

Interpreting Labour Market Statistics - The purpose of this article is to help users of labour market statistics interpret the statistics and highlight some common misunderstandings.
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