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Data show long-run net move into employment – except in 2008-2009

Released: 07 November 2013 Download PDF

Since the end of 2001 – the start of the consistent flows data – there has been a net flow from unemployment to employment, except during the economic downturn in 2008-2009, a report from ONS finds. Since the end of 2009, the flow from unemployment to employment has again been higher than the flow in the opposite direction, and flows in both directions have been consistently higher than those seen before the economic downturn.

The report, which looks at moves into, out of and within the workforce, finds that between the first and second quarters of 2013, just over one in five unemployed people aged 16-64 moved into employment. Over 500,000 people moved from unemployment to employment, with just over 400,000 moving in the opposite direction, representing a net flow from unemployment to employment.

The report also looks at the main jobs that people move into and out of. Each year from 2002 to 2013, the top two jobs that people either joined or left were sales assistant/retail cashier and elementary personal service occupations, such as bar staff or waiters.

Between the first and second quarters of 2013, over 400,000 people out of 28.7 million people employed in the first quarter moved into unemployment, so the chance of being employed in one quarter and unemployed the next was about 1.4 in 100. Over the period from 2001, this ‘hazard of unemployment’ peaked at 1.9% between the first and second quarters of 2009, after hazard rate started to rise from the second quarter of 2008. Since the end of the recession, the hazard has fallen back, but this is still higher than the levels seen prior to the recession of around 1.2%.

The analysis also looks at how other factors such as age and sex affected these flows. The unemployment hazard rate for the 16-24s was 3.3% between the first and second quarters of 2013 (having peaked at 4.4% in early 2009). By contrast, for 40-54s it was 1.1% and for the 55-64s it was 1.0%. However, the hazard rate for the youngest group has now returned to pre-recession levels, whereas the other age groups it remains higher than it was pre-2008.

Looking at qualifications, in the most recent period (to April-June 2013), those with a degree were 2.6 times more likely to move from unemployment to employment than were those with no qualifications. Likewise, graduates were 1.7 times more likely to make this move than those whose highest qualification was GCSE or equivalent.

Duration of unemployment also had an impact on the chance of finding a job – in the most recent period, those who had been unemployed for less than three months were 3.2 times more likely to move into employment than those who had been unemployed for over two years, and 1.7 times more likely to do so compared with those unemployed for between six and 12 months.

Background notes

  1. The report is on the ONS website at
  2. Information on the UK labour market comes from the Labour Force Survey, a quarterly survey in which households are interviewed for five consecutive quarters. This makes it possible to estimate the movements of individuals between quarters in employment, unemployment and inactivity. As a result, a longitudinal data set can be created over a two quarter period so that changes in labour market states and the movement of individuals between them can be analysed. However, this means that some of the changes between labour market statuses, for example someone moving from employment to unemployment and then back again within the three month period will be missed.
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  4. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the media relations office.
  5. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. © Crown copyright 2013.
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