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Guide to Employment

Released: 14 November 2012 Download PDF

Abstract

The number of people in employment in the UK is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and consists of people aged 16 and over who did paid work (as an employee or self-employed), those who had a job that they were temporarily away from, those on government-supported training and employment programmes, and those doing unpaid family work. Employment levels and rates are published each month in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin.

More detail

The number of people in employment in the UK is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and consists of people aged 16 and over who did paid work (as an employee or self-employed), those who had a job that they were temporarily away from, those on government-supported training and employment programmes, and those doing unpaid family work. Employment levels and rates are published each month in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin.

Employment is a different, but similar concept, to jobs. Employment is a measure of people and a person with more than one job would therefore be counted once in the employment estimates. The LFS provides the best measure of employment at whole economy level as it is a more comprehensive measure than jobs. However the jobs estimates provide a more reliable industrial breakdown than the LFS because it is mainly sourced from employer surveys which provide a more reliable industrial breakdown than household surveys.

Estimates are available by sex, by age and for full-time, part-time and temporary workers. Employment levels measure the total number of people estimated to be in employment while employment rates allow changes in the labour market to be interpreted in a wider context by allowing for changes in the population. The headline measure of employment for the UK is the employment rate for those aged 16 to 64.

Estimates of employment are also available for former Government Office Regions (GORs) and at local area level. Regional estimates of total employment are measured by the LFS while more disaggregated regional employment estimates and local area estimates are measured by the Annual Population Survey (APS).

Estimates of total employment levels and rates for the UK are available from 1971. Most other employment estimates are available from 1992. The concept of employment lies on the supply side of the labour market framework, as it measures those people who supply their labour.

Employees are those who are in employment and paid a wage by an employer for the work that they do. This category may be further sub-divided into permanent and temporary employees.

Self-employed are those people who regard themselves as self-employed, that is, who in their main employment work on their own account, whether or not they have employees.

Unpaid family workers are those who work in a family business who do not receive a formal wage or salary but benefit from the profits of that business.

People on government supported training programmes are classified as in employment if they are engaging in any form of work, work experience or work-related training. However if they are not engaging in any form of work, work experience or work-related training, they are NOT classified as being in employment; such people are classified as unemployed or economically inactive. 

Temporary workers are those employees who say that their main job is not permanent in one of the following ways: fixed period contract, agency temping, casual work, seasonal work or other temporary work. This is also based on respondents' self-assessment.

Employment is classified by occupation and industry. The LFS also allows analysis of the personal characteristics of those in employment such as their sex, age, ethnic group and highest qualification.

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.
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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