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Statistical bulletin: Labour Market Statistics, April 2014 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 16 April 2014 Download PDF

Key Points

  • Latest estimates for December 2013 to February 2014 show that employment continued to increase, unemployment continued to fall, as did the number of economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64. These changes continue the general direction of movement over the past two years.
  • At 2.24 million for December 2013 to February 2014, unemployment was 77,000 lower than for September to November 2013 and 320,000 lower than a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate was 6.9% of the labour force (those unemployed plus those employed) for December 2013 to February 2014, down from 7.1% for September to November 2013 and from 7.9% for a year earlier.
  • At 30.39 million for December 2013 to February 2014, employment was 239,000 higher than for September to November 2013 and 691,000 higher than a year earlier.
  • 72.6% of people aged 16 to 64 were in work for December 2013 to February 2014, up from 72.1% for September to November 2013 and from 71.4% for a year earlier.
  • 8.85 million people aged 16 to 64 were economically inactive (those out of work but not seeking or available to work) for December 2013 to February 2014. This was 86,000 lower than for September to November 2013 and 104,000 lower than a year earlier.
  • 21.9% of people aged 16 to 64 were economically inactive for December 2013 to February 2014, down from 22.2% from both September to November 2013 and from a year earlier. The rate has not been lower since October to December 1990.
  • Pay including bonuses for employees in Great Britain for December 2013 to February 2014 was 1.7% higher than a year earlier, with pay excluding bonuses 1.4% higher.

In this Statistical Bulletin

This Statistical Bulletin contains the latest employment, unemployment and average earnings estimates for December 2013 to February 2014. It also includes estimates for the Claimant Count (which measures people claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed), other key out of work benefits, jobs, labour productivity, labour disputes, redundancies and vacancies.

Summary of latest Labour Market Statistics

Comparing December 2013 to February 2014 with September to November 2013, the number of people in employment increased by 239,000 (to 30.39 million), the number of unemployed people fell by 77,000 (to 2.24 million) and the number of people not in the labour force (economically inactive) aged from 16 to 64 fell by 86,000 (to 8.85 million).

Summary of latest Labour Market Statistics for December 2013 to February 2014, Seasonally Adjusted

  Number (thousands) Change on quarter Change on year Headline Rate (%) Change on quarter Change on year
             
Employed: 30,389 +239 +691
  Aged 16-64 29,301 +217 +570 72.6 0.5 1.2
  Aged 65+ 1,089 +22 +122
             
Unemployed: 2,243 -77 -320 6.9 -0.3 -1.1
  Aged 16-64 2,212 -86 -334
  Aged 65+ 31 +8 +14
             
Inactive: 18,526 -51 +39
  Aged 16-64 8,846 -86 -104 21.9 -0.2 -0.3
  Aged 65+ 9,680 +35 +142

Table notes:

  1. Calculation of headline employment rate: Number of employed people aged from 16 to 64 divided by the population aged from 16 to 64. Population is the sum of employed plus unemployed plus inactive.

  2. Calculation of headline unemployment rate: Number of unemployed people aged 16 and over divided by the sum of employed people aged 16 and over plus unemployed people aged 16 and over.

  3. Calculation of headline economic inactivity rate: Number of economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64 divided by the population aged from 16 to 64. Population is the sum of employed plus unemployed plus inactive.

  4. Components may not sum exactly to totals due to rounding.

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Historical Context

Since the early 1970s the proportion of women in employment has increased and the proportion of men in employment has fallen, as shown by Chart 1, which shows the employment rates for men and women aged from 16 to 64 since comparable records began in 1971.

Chart 1: Employment rates (aged 16 to 64) from January-March 1971 to December 2013-February 2014, seasonally adjusted

Chart 1: Employment rates (aged 16 to 64) from January-March 1971 to December 2013-February 2014, seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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As shown in Chart 2A, the unemployment rate for men rose above 10% during the downturns of the mid-1980s and early 1990s, but peaked at 9.1% during the downturn of 2008-09. Since comparable records began in 1971 movements in the unemployment rate for women have broadly followed that for men, although the unemployment rate for women increased by less than that for men during the downturn of the early 1990s.

Chart 2A: Unemployment rates (aged 16 and over) from January-March 1971 to December 2013-February 2014, seasonally adjusted

Chart 2A: Unemployment rates (aged 16 and over) from January-March 1971 to December 2013-February 2014, seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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As shown in Chart 2B, the economic inactivity rate for women has been gradually falling since comparable records began in 1971 while the rate for men has been gradually rising.

Chart 2B: Economic Inactivity rates (aged 16 to 64) from January-March 1971 to December 2013-February 2014, seasonally adjusted

Chart 2B: Economic Inactivity rates (aged 16 to 64) from January-March 1971 to December 2013-February 2014, seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Understanding and working with Labour Market Statistics

Where to find explanatory information

Explaining the concepts of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity, is available on the website as a short video.

Interpreting Labour Market statistics, available on the website, is designed to help users interpret labour market statistics and highlight some common misunderstandings.

A more detailed Guide to Labour Market Statistics, which expands on “Interpreting Labour Market Statistics” and includes a Glossary , is also available.

About labour market statuses

Everybody aged 16 or over is either employed, unemployed or economically inactive. The employment estimates include all people in work including those working part-time. People not working are classed as unemployed if they have been looking for work within the last four weeks and are able to start work within the next two weeks.

A common misconception is that the unemployment statistics are a count of people on benefits; this is not the case and they include unemployed people not claiming benefits. Jobless people who have not been looking for work within the last four weeks or who are unable to start work within the next two weeks are classed as economically inactive. Examples of economically inactive people include people not looking for work because they are students, looking after the family or home, because of illness or disability or because they have retired.

Making comparisons with earlier data

The most robust estimates of short-term movements in the labour market are obtained by comparing the estimates for December 2013 to February 2014 with the estimates for September to November 2013 first published on 22 January 2014. This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for November 2013 to January 2014 published last month in the previous edition of this Statistical Bulletin. This is because the December and January data are included within both estimates, so effectively observed differences are those between the individual months of November 2013 and February 2014. The Labour Force Survey, from which these estimates are derived, is sampled such that it is representative of the UK population over a three month period, not for single month periods.

Accuracy and reliability of survey estimates

Most of the figures in this Statistical Bulletin come from surveys of households or businesses. Surveys gather information from a sample rather than from the whole population. The sample is designed carefully to allow for this, and to be as accurate as possible given practical limitations such as time and cost constraints, but results from sample surveys are always estimates, not precise figures. This means that they are subject to a margin of error which can have an impact on how changes in the numbers should be interpreted, especially in the short-term.

Changes in the numbers reported in this Statistical Bulletin (and especially the rates) between three month periods are usually not greater than the margin of error.  In practice, this means that small, short-term movements in reported rates (for example within +/- 0.3 percentage points) should be treated as indicative, and considered alongside medium and long-term patterns in the series and corresponding movements in administrative sources, where available, to give a fuller picture.

Further information is available in the Accuracy of the Statistics: Estimating and Reporting Uncertainty section of this Statistical Bulletin.

Seasonal adjustment

All estimates discussed in this Statistical Bulletin are seasonally adjusted except where otherwise stated. Like many economic indicators, the labour market is affected by factors that tend to occur at around the same time every year; for example school leavers entering the labour market in July and whether Easter falls in March or April. In order to compare movements other than annual changes in labour market statistics, such as since the previous quarter or since the previous month, the data are seasonally adjusted to remove the effects of seasonal factors and the arrangement of the calendar.

Employment

What is employment ?

Employment measures the number of people in paid work and differs from the number of jobs because some people have more than one job. Further information is available at Notes for Employment at the end of this section.

Explaining the concepts of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity is available on the website as a short video.

A comparison between estimates of employment and jobs is available in an article on the website.

Where to find data about employment

Employment estimates are available at Tables 1 and 3 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data tables A02 (1.42 Mb Excel sheet) and EMP01 (1.31 Mb Excel sheet) .

Commentary

The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 72.6% for December 2013 to February 2014. This was:

  • up from 72.1% for September to November 2013,

  • up from 71.4% for a year earlier, but

  • lower than the pre-downturn peak of 73.0% recorded for late 2007/early 2008.

Chart 3 shows the employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the last five years.

Chart 3: Employment rate (aged 16 to 64), seasonally adjusted

Chart 3: Employment rate (aged 16 to 64), seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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The employment rate for men aged from 16 to 64 was 77.6% for December 2013 to February 2014, up 0.5 percentage points from September to November 2013. The corresponding employment rate for women was 67.6%, also up 0.5 percentage points from September to November 2013. While the employment rate for men was lower than before the 2008-09 downturn, the employment rate for women was the highest on record.

There were 30.39 million people aged 16 and over in employment for December 2013 to February 2014, up by 239,000 from September to November 2013 and up by 691,000 on a year earlier. Between September to November 2013 and December 2013 to February 2014, as shown in Chart 4:

  • The number of men working full-time increased by 131,000 to reach 14.12 million.

  • The number of men working part-time increased by 9,000 to reach 2.17 million.

  • The number of women working full-time increased by 34,000 to reach 8.09 million.

  • The number of women working part-time increased by 65,000 to reach 6.00 million.

Chart 4: Changes in people in employment between September to November 2013 and December 2013 to February 2014, seasonally adjusted

Chart 4: Changes in people in employment between September to November 2013 and December 2013 to February 2014, seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Between September to November 2013 and December 2013 to February 2014:

  • the number of employees increased by 99,000 to reach 25.64 million,

  • the number of self-employed people increased by 146,000 to reach 4.50 million,

  • the number of unpaid family workers increased by 7,000 to reach 117,000, and

  • the number of people on government supported training and employment programmes classified as being in employment (excluding those classified as employees and self-employed) decreased by 13,000 to reach 135,000.
     

Notes for Employment

  1. Employment consists of employees, self-employed people, unpaid family workers and people on government supported training and employment programmes. 

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

  3. The Government supported training and employment programmes series does not include all people on these programmes; it only includes people engaging in any form of work, work experience or work-related training who are not included in the employees or self-employed series. People on these programmes NOT engaging in any form of work, work experience or work-related training are not included in the employment estimates; they are classified as unemployed or economically inactive.

Public and Private Sector Employment (first published on 19 March 2014)

What is public and private sector employment ?

Public sector employment measures the number of people in paid work in the public sector. The public sector comprises central government, local government and public corporations. Estimates of public sector employment are obtained from information provided by public sector organisations.

Private sector employment is estimated as the difference between total employment, sourced from the Labour Force Survey, and public sector employment. 

Where to find data about public and private sector employment ?

Public and private sector employment estimates are available at Tables 4 and 4(1) of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data tables EMP02  (70 Kb Excel sheet) and EMP03 (52.5 Kb Excel sheet) .

Further information on public sector employment is available in the Public Sector Employment release published on 19 March 2014.

Commentary

The estimates of public sector employment for December 2013 have been affected by the reclassification of Royal Mail plc. Royal Mail plc is in the private sector from December 2013 but in the public sector for earlier time periods.

There were 5.51 million people employed in the public sector for December 2013, down 159,000 from September 2013 and down 203,000 from a year earlier. These large falls in public sector employment were mainly due to the reclassification of Royal Mail plc. Excluding the effects of this reclassification, public sector employment fell by 13,000 on the quarter and by 14,000 on the year.

There were 24.68 million people employed in the private sector for December 2013, up 264,000 from September 2013 and up 662,000 from a year earlier. These large increases in private sector employment were partly due to the reclassification of Royal Mail plc. Excluding the effects of this reclassification, private sector employment increased by 118,000 on the quarter and by 473,000 on the year.

For December 2013, 81.8% of people in employment worked in the private sector and the remaining 18.2% worked in the public sector.

Chart 5 shows public sector employment as a percentage of all people in employment for the last five years.

Chart 5: Public sector employment as a percentage of total employment, seasonally adjusted

Chart 5: Public sector employment as a percentage of total employment, seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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For December 2013 within the public sector, as shown in Chart 6:

  • 1.57 million people were employed in the National Health Service, up 13,000 from September 2013 and up 6,000 from a year earlier.

  • 1.07 million people were employed in public administration, down 11,000 from September 2013 and from a year earlier.

  • 1.52 million people were employed in education, up 8,000 from September 2013, and up 44,000 from a year earlier.

  • 425,000 people were employed in HM Forces and the police, down 7,000 from September 2013 and down 16,000 from a year earlier.

Chart 6: Public sector employment by industry for December 2013, seasonally adjusted

Chart 6: Public sector employment by industry for December 2013, seasonally adjusted
Source: Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey - Office for National Statistics

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The number of people employed in the public sector has been falling since March 2010. Quarterly estimates of public and private sector employment are available back to 1999. Comparisons of public and private sector employment over time are complicated by a number of changes to the composition of the public and private sectors over this period with several large employers moving between the public and private sectors.

 

 

 

Employment by Nationality and Country of Birth, not seasonally adjusted (first published on 19 February 2014)

What is employment by nationality and country of birth ?

The estimates of employment by both nationality and country of birth relate to the number of people in employment rather than the number of jobs. Changes in the series therefore show net changes in the number of people in employment, not the proportion of new jobs that have gone to non-UK workers. The estimates are not seasonally adjusted.

Where to find data about employment by nationality and country of birth

Estimates of employment by nationality and country of birth are available at Table 8 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data table EMP06 (180.5 Kb Excel sheet) .

Commentary

Looking at the estimates by nationality, between October to December 2012 and October to December 2013:

  • the number of UK nationals in employment in the UK increased by 367,000 to reach 27.54 million, and
  • the number of non-UK nationals in employment in the UK increased by 54,000 to reach 2.70 million.

The number of people in employment who were foreign born is higher than those who were foreign nationals as some people born abroad are UK nationals. For October to December 2013, 4.46 million people in employment were born abroad, 1.76 million higher than the number of non-UK nationals in employment. Looking at the estimates by country of birth, between October to December 2012 and October to December 2013:

  • the number of UK born people in employment in the UK increased by 276,000 to reach 25.77 million, and
  • the number of non-UK born people in employment in the UK increased by 141,000 to reach 4.46 million.

 

Chart 7: Employment by nationality and country of birth, changes between October to December 2012 and October to December 2013, not seasonally adjusted

Chart 7: Employment by nationality and country of birth, changes between October to December 2012 and October to December 2013, not seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. Between October-December 2012 and October-December 2013, the total number of people in employment increased by 425,000.
  2. Changes in the UK and non-UK estimates do not sum exactly to changes in the total number of people in employment because some people do not state their country of birth or nationality in their Labour Force Survey interviews.

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Estimates of employment by nationality and country of birth are available back to 1997. For January to March 1997 there were 928,000 non-UK nationals in employment in the UK (3.5% of all people in employment in the UK). For October to December 2013, there were 2.70 million non-UK nationals working in the UK (8.9% of all people working in the UK). This increase in the number of non-UK nationals working in the UK since 1997 partly reflects the admission of several new member states to the European Union.

 

 

Actual Hours Worked

What is actual hours worked ?

Actual hours worked measures the number of hours worked in the economy. Changes in actual hours worked reflect changes in the number of people in employment and the average hours worked by those people.

Where to find data about hours worked

Hours worked estimates are available at Tables 7 and 7(1) of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data tables HOUR01 (473.5 Kb Excel sheet) and HOUR02 (1.63 Mb Excel sheet) .

Commentary

Total hours worked per week were 973.0 million for December 2013 to February 2014. This was:

  • up 3.6 million from September to November 2013,

  • up 24.6 million on a year earlier, and

  • up 51.0 million on five years previously.

Chart 8 shows total hours worked for the last five years.

Chart 8: Total weekly hours worked, seasonally adjusted

Chart 8: Total weekly hours worked, seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Workforce Jobs

What is Workforce Jobs ?

Workforce jobs measures the number of filled jobs in the economy. The estimates are mainly sourced from employer surveys. Workforce jobs is a different concept from employment, which is sourced from the Labour Force Survey, as employment is an estimate of people and some people have more than one job.

A comparison between estimates of employment and jobs is available in an article published on the website.

Where to find data about workforce jobs

Jobs estimates are available at Tables 5 and 6 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data tables JOBS01 (46.5 Kb Excel sheet) and JOBS02 (195 Kb Excel sheet) .

Commentary

There were 32.72 million workforce jobs in December 2013, up 453,000 from September 2013 and up 993,000 on a year earlier. Chart 9 shows changes in the number of jobs by industrial sector between December 2012 and December 2013.

Chart 9: Workforce jobs changes between December 2012 and December 2013, seasonally adjusted

Chart 9: Workforce jobs changes between December 2012 and December 2013, seasonally adjusted
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Since comparable records began in 1978, the number of jobs in the manufacturing and mining and quarrying sectors has declined, but jobs in the service sectors have increased substantially. In June 1978, the manufacturing and mining and quarrying sectors accounted for 26.4% of all jobs. In December 2013 these sectors accounted for 8.1% of all jobs. In June 1978, 63.2% of all jobs were in the services sector; by December 2013 this proportion had increased to 83.1%.

Average Weekly Earnings

What is Average Weekly Earnings ?

Average Weekly Earnings measures money paid to employees in Great Britain in return for work done, before tax and other deductions from pay. The estimates do not include earnings of self-employed people.

Estimates are available for both total pay (which includes bonuses) and for regular pay (which excludes bonus payments).

Further information is available at Notes for Earnings at the end of this section.

Where to find data on Average Weekly Earnings ?

Average Weekly Earnings estimates are available at Tables 15, 15(1) and 16 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data tables EARN01 (472 Kb Excel sheet) , EARN02 (514.5 Kb Excel sheet) and EARN03 (580 Kb Excel sheet) .

Where to find more information about Earnings

An article comparing public and private sector earnings was published on 10 March 2014.

The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), published on 12 December 2013, provides more detailed data.

Commentary

In February 2014:

  • Average total pay (including bonuses) for employees in Great Britain was £479 per week.

  • Average regular pay (excluding bonuses) for employees in Great Britain was £449 per week.

For December 2013 to February 2014, total pay for employees in Great Britain was 1.7% higher than a year earlier while regular pay was 1.4% higher. Between February 2013 and February 2014, the Consumer Prices Index increased by 1.7%.
This was the first time since February to April 2010 that the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Prices Index had not been greater than the annual percentage increase in total pay.

Chart 10 shows annual growth rates for earnings and prices for the last five years.

Chart 10: Average earnings and consumer prices annual growth rates

Chart 10: Average earnings and consumer prices annual growth rates
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. This chart shows monthly estimates for the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) from February 2009 to February 2014 and three month average estimates for Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) from December 2008-February 2009 to December 2013-February 2014.
  2. The CPI series is for the United Kingdom and is compiled from prices data based on a large and representative selection of individual goods and services. The AWE series are for Great Britain and are sourced from the Monthly Wages and Salaries Survey.
  3. The AWE series are seasonally adjusted. The CPI series is not seasonally adjusted.

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Between December 2012 to February 2013 and December 2013 to February 2014:

  • For the private sector, total pay rose by 2.0%, while regular pay rose by 1.8%.

  • For the public sector, total pay rose by 0.9%, while regular pay rose by 1.0%.

  • For the public sector excluding financial services, total pay rose by 1.3%, while regular pay rose by 1.5%.

Since comparable records began in 2000, average total pay for employees in Great Britain has increased from £311 a week in January 2000 to £479 a week in February 2014; an increase of 54.0%. Between January 2000 and February 2014, the Consumer Prices Index increased by 38.3%.

Notes for Average Weekly Earnings

  1. The estimates are in current prices; this means that they are not adjusted for price inflation.

  2. The estimates relate to Great Britain and include salaries but not unearned income, benefits in kind or arrears of pay. 

  3. As well as pay settlements, the estimates reflect bonuses, changes in the number of paid hours worked and the impact of employees paid at different rates joining and leaving individual businesses. The estimates also reflect changes in the overall structure of the workforce; for example, fewer low paid jobs in the economy would have an upward effect on the earnings growth rate.

  4. From October 2013 onwards Royal Mail plc is classified to the private sector, but for earlier time periods it is classified to the public sector. This reclassification has a small effect on the public and private sector single month growth rates from October 2013 and the three month average growth rates from August-October 2013. Further information regarding this reclassification is available in an article published on the website on 19 November 2013.

  5. From June 2012 onwards English Further Education Corporations and Sixth Form College Corporations are classified to the private sector, but for earlier time periods they are classified to the public sector. This affects the public and private sector single month growth rates from June 2012 to May 2013, and the three month average growth rates from April-June 2012 to May-July 2013. ONS estimates that, if the reclassification had not occurred, the public sector single month growth rates between June 2012 and May 2013 would have been between 0.6 and 0.8 percentage points lower and the corresponding private sector growth rates would have been between 0.1 and 0.2 percentage points higher

Labour Productivity (first published on 1 April 2014)

What is Labour Productivity ?

Labour productivity measures the amount of real (inflation adjusted) economic output that is produced by a unit of labour input (in terms of workers, jobs and hours worked).

Where to find data about Labour Productivity

Labour productivity estimates are available at Table 17 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data table PROD01 (67 Kb Excel sheet) .

Further information is available in the Labour Productivity Statistical Bulletin published on 1 April 2014.

Commentary

On an output by hour basis, UK labour productivity increased by 0.3% between Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 of 2013 to a level that was 0.7% higher than for Quarter 4 of 2012.

Whole economy unit labour costs decreased by 0.2% between Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 of 2013 but were 0.9% higher than for Quarter 4 of 2012, the lowest annual percentage increase since Quarter 2 of 2011.

Chart 11 shows percentage changes on quarter for output per hour and unit labour costs for the last five years.

Chart 11: Output per hour and unit labour costs, percentage changes on quarter (seasonally adjusted)

Chart 11: Output per hour and unit labour costs, percentage changes on quarter (seasonally adjusted)
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Labour Disputes (not seasonally adjusted)

What are labour disputes ?

The labour disputes estimates measure strikes connected with terms and conditions of employment.

Where to find data about labour disputes

Labour disputes estimates are available at Table 20 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data table LABD01 (106.5 Kb Excel sheet) .

Commentary

In February 2014, there were 32,000 working days lost from 16 stoppages. In the 12 months to February 2014, there were 476,000 working days lost from 124 stoppages. Chart 12 shows cumulative 12 month totals for working days lost for the last five years.

Chart 12: Working days lost cumulative 12 months totals, not seasonally adjusted

Chart 12: Working days lost cumulative 12 months totals, not seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Disputes Statistics - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. The cumulative 12 month totals from November 2011 to October 2012 are affected by a one day strike on 30 November 2011 called by several trade unions in connection with a dispute over proposed changes to pension schemes for some public sector workers.
  2. There was a further one day strike on 30 May 2012 in connection with a dispute over proposed changes to pension schemes for some public sector workers which affected the cumulative 12 month totals from May 2012 to April 2013.

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Latest estimates for the number of working days lost from labour disputes are at historically low levels. The highest cumulative 12 month figure for working days lost since records began in December 1931 was 32.2 million for the 12 months to April 1980.

Unemployment

What is 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.

Explaining the concepts of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity, is available on the website as a short video.

Where to find data about unemployment

Unemployment estimates for the UK are available at Table 9 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data table UNEM01 (2.11 Mb Excel sheet) .

International comparisons of unemployment rates are available at Table 19 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data table A10 (276 Kb Excel sheet) .

European Union (EU) unemployment rates were published in a Eurostat News Release on 1 April 2014.

Commentary

The unemployment rate was 6.9% for December 2013 to February 2014. This was:

  • down from 7.1% for September to November 2013,

  • down from 7.9% for a year earlier, but

  • higher than the pre-downturn trough of 5.2% for late 2007/early 2008.

Unemployment rates are calculated, in accordance with international guidelines, as the number of unemployed people divided by the economically active population (those unemployed plus those employed).

Chart 13 shows the unemployment rate for those aged 16 and over for the last five years.

Chart 13: Unemployment rate (aged 16+), seasonally adjusted

Chart 13: Unemployment rate (aged 16+), seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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For December 2013 to February 2014:

  • There were 2.24 million unemployed people, down 77,000 from September to November 2013 and down 320,000 from a year earlier.

  • There were 1.26 million unemployed men, down 53,000 from September to November 2013 and down 184,000 from a year earlier.

  • There were 982,000 unemployed women, down 24,000 from September to November 2013 and down 136,000 from a year earlier.

Looking at unemployment by duration for December 2013 to February 2014, as shown in Chart 14:

  • 1.06 million people had been unemployed for up to six months, down 22,000 from September to November 2013 and down 143,000 from a year earlier.

  • 371,000 people had been unemployed for between six and twelve months, down 24,000 from September to November 2013 and down 83,000 from a year earlier.

  • 807,000 people had been unemployed for over one year, down 32,000 from September to November 2013 and down 93,000 from a year earlier.

  • 430,000 people had been unemployed for over two years, down 19,000 from September to November 2013 and down 33,000 from a year earlier.

Chart 14: Unemployment by duration for December 2013 to February 2014, seasonally adjusted

Chart 14: Unemployment by duration for December 2013 to February 2014, seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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The unemployment rate for the EU was 10.6% of the economically active population for February 2014. The unemployment rate for the United States was 6.7% for both February and March 2014.

Chart 15 shows the unemployment rates for the UK, the EU and the United States for the last five years. As shown in Chart 15, the unemployment rate for the UK has been substantially lower than that for the whole of the EU. The unemployment rate for the United States peaked at 10% in October 2009 (when the rate for the UK was 7.8%) but US unemployment has moved in a downward direction since early 2010, and for the last year has been slightly lower than the rate for the UK.

Chart 15: Unemployment rates for the United Kingdom, United States and the European Union, seasonally adjusted

Chart 15: Unemployment rates for the United Kingdom, United States and the European Union, seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics, Eurostat

Notes:

  1. The unemployment rates for the UK and the United States are for those aged 16 and over. The unemployment rate for the EU is for those aged from 15 to 74.
  2. This chart shows monthly estimates for the EU and for the United States from February 2009 to February 2014 and three month average estimates for the UK from December 2008-February 2009 to December 2013-February 2014.

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Young People in the Labour Market

Where to find data on young people in the labour market

Estimates for young people in the labour market are available at Table 14 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data table A06 (2.36 Mb Excel sheet) .

Where to find more information about young people in the labour market

Estimates for young people who were Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) for October to December 2013 were published on 27 February 2014.

A report on Young People in the Labour Market was published on 5 March 2014.

Commentary

For December 2013 to February 2014, there were:

  • 3.72 million 16 to 24 year olds in employment (22%  of whom were in full-time education), up 49,000 from September to November 2013,

  • 2.59 million economically inactive 16 to 24 year olds (75% of whom were in full-time education), down 18,000 from September to November 2013, and

  • 881,000 unemployed 16 to 24 year olds (32% of whom were in full-time education), down 38,000 from September to November 2013.

For December to February 2014, the unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds was 19.1%, down 0.9 percentage points from September to November 2013.

Comparisons of youth unemployment over time are complicated by the fact that, in accordance with international guidelines, unemployment rates are calculated as the number of unemployed people divided by the economically active population (those unemployed plus those employed). Since comparable records began in 1992, the proportion of people aged from 16 to 24 in full-time education has increased substantially from 24.3% for March to May 1992 to 42.1% for December 2013 to February 2014. Increasing numbers of young people going into full-time education reduces the size of the economically active population and therefore increases the unemployment rate.

Chart 16: Young people (aged 16 to 24) in the labour market for December 2013 to February 2014, seasonally adjusted

Chart 16: Young people (aged 16 to 24) in the labour market for December 2013 to February 2014, seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. FTE = Full-time education.
  2. The “Not in Full-time education” series include people in part-time education and/or some form of training.

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Claimant Count

What is the Claimant Count ?

The Claimant Count measures the number of people claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed. Since October 1996 it has been a count of the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

See Notes for Claimant Count at the end of this section for further details.

Where to find data about the Claimant Count

Claimant Count estimates are available at Tables 10 and 11 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data tables CLA01 (403.5 Kb Excel sheet) and CLA02 (488.5 Kb Excel sheet) .

Commentary

The Claimant Count for March 2014 was 1.14 million. This was:

  • down 30,400 from February 2014,

  • down 386,100 from a year earlier, but

  • 363,600 higher than the pre-downturn trough of 778,400 for February 2008.

Chart 17 shows the Claimant Count for the last five years. The Claimant Count rate for March 2014 was 3.4%, down 0.1 percentage points from February 2014 and down 1.2 percentage points from a year earlier.

Chart 17: Claimant Count, seasonally adjusted

Chart 17: Claimant Count, seasonally adjusted
Source: Office for National Statistics, Work and Pensions

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Since comparable records began in 1971, the lowest figure for the Claimant Count was 422,600 for December 1973 and the highest figure was 3.09 million for July 1986.

Chart 18 shows that for March 2014, excluding a small number of clerically processed claims for which an age breakdown is not available, there were:

  • 284,700 people aged from 18 to 24 claiming JSA, down 9,700 from February 2014,

  • 642,100 people aged from 25 to 49 claiming JSA, down 17,300 from February 2014, and

  • 212,600 people aged 50 and over claiming JSA, down 3,900 from February 2014.

Chart 18: JSA claimants (excluding clerical claims) by age and sex for March 2014, seasonally adjusted

Chart 18: JSA claimants (excluding clerical claims) by age and sex for March 2014, seasonally adjusted
Source: Office for National Statistics, Work and Pensions

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Notes for Claimant Count

  1. The Claimant Count measures the number of people claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed. Since October 1996 it has been a count of the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). The Claimant Count does not yet include people claiming Universal Credit - a new benefit which, for the March 2014 Claimant Count date, had been introduced in only nine Jobcentre Plus offices. The absence of Universal Credit claimants is expected to have a small effect on the Claimant Count from May 2013. See Background Notes to this Statistical Bulletin for further details.

  2. The Claimant Count includes people who claim Jobseeker’s Allowance but who do not receive payment. For example some claimants will have had their benefits stopped for a limited period of time by Jobcentre Plus; this is known as “sanctioning”. Some people claim Jobseeker’s Allowance in order to receive National Insurance Credits.

Comparison between Unemployment and the Claimant Count

Unemployment is measured according to internationally accepted guidelines specified by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Unemployed people in the UK are:

  • without a job, have actively sought work in the last four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks, or;

  • out of work, have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next two weeks.

People who meet these criteria are classified as unemployed irrespective of whether or not they claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or other benefits. The estimates are derived from the Labour Force Survey and are published for three month average time periods.

The Claimant Count measures the number of people claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed. Since October 1996 it has been a count of the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). Some JSA claimants will not be classified as unemployed. For example, people in employment working fewer than 16 hours a week can be eligible to claim JSA depending on their income.

Chart 19 and the associated spreadsheet compare quarterly movements in unemployment and the Claimant Count for the same three month average time periods. The unemployment estimates shown in this comparison exclude unemployed people in the 16 to 17 and 65 and over age groups as well as unemployed people aged from 18 to 24 in full-time education. This provides a more meaningful comparison with the Claimant Count than total unemployment because people in these population groups are not usually eligible to claim JSA.

When three month average estimates for the Claimant Count are compared with unemployment estimates for the same time periods and for the same population groups (people aged from 18 to 64 excluding 18 to 24 year olds in full-time education), between September to November 2013 and December 2013 to February 2014:

  • unemployment fell by 73,000, and

  • the Claimant Count fell by 100,000.

Chart 19: Quarterly changes in Unemployment and the Claimant Count (aged 18 to 64), seasonally adjusted

Chart 19: Quarterly changes in Unemployment and the Claimant Count (aged 18 to 64), seasonally adjusted
Source: Office for National Statistics, Work and Pensions

Notes:

  1. Unemployment estimates are sourced from the Labour Force Survey (a survey of households). The unemployment figures in this chart, and the associated spreadsheet, exclude unemployed people aged from 18 to 24 in full-time education.
  2. Claimant Count estimates are sourced from administrative data from Jobcentre Plus (part of the Department for Work and Pensions).

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Economic Inactivity

What is economic inactivity ? 

Economically inactive people 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 they are unable to start work within the next two weeks.

Explaining the concepts of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity, is available on the website as a short video.

Where to find data on economic inactivity

Economic inactivity estimates are available at Tables 1 and 13 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data tables A02 (1.42 Mb Excel sheet) and INAC01 (2.59 Mb Excel sheet) .

Commentary

The economic inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 21.9% for December 2013 to February 2014. This was down from 22.2% both for September to November 2013 and for a year earlier. The rate has not been lower since October to December 1990.

Chart 20 shows the economic inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the last five years.

Chart 20: Economic inactivity rate (aged 16 to 64), seasonally adjusted

Chart 20: Economic inactivity rate (aged 16 to 64), seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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There were 8.85 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64 for December 2013 to February 2014. This was:

  • down 86,000 from September to November 2013,

  • down 104,000 from a year earlier, and

  • the lowest figure since May-July 2003.

Looking at economic inactivity (for people aged from 16 to 64) by reason for December 2013 to February 2014, as shown in Chart 21:

  • There were 2.24 million economically inactive students, down 46,000 from September to November 2013 but unchanged from a year earlier.

  • There were 2.26 million people looking after the family or home, down 30,000 from September to November 2013 and down 8,000 from a year earlier.

  • There were 1.98 million people who were economically inactive due to long-term sickness, down 16,000 from September to November 2013 and down 36,000 from a year earlier.

  • There were 1.31 million economically inactive people who had retired before reaching the age of 65, down 25,000 from September to November 2013 and down 57,000 from a year earlier.

The fall in the number of economically inactive people who had retired before reaching the age of 65 reflects changes to the state pension age for women. The age at which women reach state pension age has been gradually increasing from 60 since April 2010, resulting in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.

Chart 21: Economic inactivity by reason (aged 16 to 64) for December 2013 to February 2014, seasonally adjusted

Chart 21: Economic inactivity by reason (aged 16 to 64) for December 2013 to February 2014, seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Redundancies

What are redundancies ?

The redundancies estimates measure the number of people who have been made redundant or have taken voluntary redundancy.

Where to find data on redundancies

Redundancies estimates are available at Tables 23 and 24 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data tables RED01 (194.5 Kb Excel sheet) and RED02 (2.35 Mb Excel sheet) .

Commentary

For December 2013 to February 2014, 117,000 people had become redundant in the three months before the Labour Force Survey interviews. This was:

  • up 5,000 from September to November 2013,

  • down 20,000 from a year earlier, and

  • down 193,000 from the peak of 310,000 recorded for February to April 2009

Chart 22 shows the number of people made redundant for the last five years.

Chart 22: Redundancies, seasonally adjusted

Chart 22: Redundancies, seasonally adjusted
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Vacancies

What are vacancies ?

Vacancies are defined as positions for which employers are actively seeking to recruit outside their business or organisation.

Where to find data about vacancies

Vacancies estimates are available at Tables 21, 21(1) and 22 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data tables VACS01 (63.5 Kb Excel sheet) , VACS02 (142.5 Kb Excel sheet) and VACS03 (76.5 Kb Excel sheet) .

Commentary

There were 611,000 job vacancies for January to March 2014. This was:

  • up 38,000 from October to December 2013,

  • up 108,000 from a year earlier, but

  • 85,000 lower than the pre-downturn peak of 696,000 for January to March 2008.

Chart 23: Vacancies, seasonally adjusted

Chart 23: Vacancies, seasonally adjusted
Source: Vacancy Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Key Out of Work Benefits, not seasonally adjusted (first published on 19 February 2014)

What are key out of work benefits ?

Key out of work benefits includes claimants of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance and other incapacity benefits. It also includes claimants of Income Support and Pension Credit. Most people claiming these benefits are out of work. These estimates exclude claimants in Northern Ireland.

Where to find data about key out of work benefits

Estimates of claimants of key out of work benefits are available at Table 25 of the pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin and at data table BEN01 (60.5 Kb Excel sheet) .

Commentary

For August 2013 there were 4.41 million people claiming key out of work benefits. This was

  • down 318,200 from August 2012, and

  • down 689,200 from the peak of 5.10 million recorded for February 2010.

For August 2013, 11.1% of the population aged from 16 to 64 were claiming key out of work benefits, down 0.8 percentage points from August 2012.

Chart 24 shows, for the last five years, the proportion of the population aged from 16 to 64 claiming key out of work benefits.

Chart 24: Proportion of population (aged 16 to 64) claiming key out of work benefits, not seasonally adjusted

Chart 24: Proportion of population (aged 16 to 64) claiming key out of work benefits, not seasonally adjusted
Source: Work and Pensions, Office for National Statistics

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Where to find more information about Labour Market Statistics

Recently published reports on labour market topics

Public and private sector earnings (10 March 2014)

Young People in the Labour Market (5 March 2014)

Sickness Absence in the Labour Market (25 February 2014)

Graduates in the Labour Market (19 November 2013)

Moving Between Unemployment and Employment (7 November 2013)

Women in the Labour Market (25 September 2013)

Working and workless households (28 August 2013)

Bonus payments in Great Britain (20 August 2013) 

Historic articles published in Economic & Labour Market Review and Labour Market Trends

Articles about labour market statistics were published in Labour Market Trends (up until 2006) and in Economic and Labour Market Review (from 2007 to 2011). Editions of Labour Market Trends are available on the website from July 2001 until December 2006 when the publication was discontinued. It was replaced by  Economic and Labour Market Review , which also included articles about labour market statistics. Editions of Economic and Labour Market Review are available on the website from the first edition, published in January 2007, up until the last edition published in May 2011.

Published ad hoc data and analysis 

Additional statistical data and analyses for labour market statistics  that have not been included in our standard publications are available on the website.

Revisions

Estimates for the most recent time periods are subject to revision due to the receipt of late and corrected responses to business surveys and revisions to seasonal adjustment factors which are re-estimated every month. Estimates are subject to longer run revisions, on an annual basis, resulting from reviews of the seasonal adjustment process. Estimates derived from the Labour Force Survey (a survey of households) are usually only revised once a year. Revisions to estimates derived from other sources are usually minor and are commented on in the Statistical Bulletin if this is not the case. Further information is available in the Labour Market Statistics Revisions Policy (36.7 Kb Pdf) .

One indication of the reliability of the key indicators in this Statistical Bulletin can be obtained by monitoring the size of revisions.  Data tables EMP05 (927 Kb Excel sheet) , UNEM04 (1.93 Mb Excel sheet) , JOBS06 (367 Kb Excel sheet) and CLA03 (1.81 Mb Excel sheet) record the size and pattern of revisions over the last five years. These indicators only report summary measures for revisions. The revised data itself may be subject to sampling or other sources of error. The ONS standard presentation is to show five years worth of revisions (60 observations for a monthly series, 20 for a quarterly series).

Accuracy of the Statistics: Estimating and Reporting Uncertainty

Most of the figures in this Statistical Bulletin come from surveys of households or businesses. Surveys gather information from a sample rather than from the whole population.  The sample is designed carefully to allow for this, and to be as accurate as possible given practical limitations like time and cost constraints, but results from sample surveys are always estimates, not precise figures. This means that they are subject to some uncertainty. This can have an impact on how changes in the estimates should be interpreted, especially for short-term comparisons.

We can calculate the level of uncertainty (also called “sampling variability”) around a survey estimate by exploring how that estimate would change if we were to draw many survey samples for the same time period instead of just one. This allows us to define a range around the estimate (known as a “confidence interval”) and to state how likely it is in practice that the real value that the survey is trying to measure lies within that range. Confidence intervals are typically set up so that we can be 95% sure that the true value lies within the range – in which case we refer to a “95% confidence interval”.

For example, the unemployment rate for December 2013 to February 2014 was estimated to be 6.9%. This figure had a stated 95% confidence interval of +/- 0.2 percentage points. This means that we can be 95% certain that the true unemployment rate for December 2013 to February 2014 was between 6.7 and 7.1%.  However, the best estimate from the survey was that the unemployment rate was 6.9 per cent.

The number of people unemployed for the same period was estimated at 2,243,000, with a stated 95% confidence interval of +/- 80,000.  This means that we can be 95% sure that the true number of unemployed people was between 2,163,000 and 2,323,000.  Again, the best estimate from the survey was that the number of unemployed people was 2,243,000.

As well as calculating precision measures around the numbers and rates obtained from the survey, we can also calculate them for changes in the numbers.  For example, in December 2013 to February 2014, the estimated change in the number of unemployed people since the previous quarter was a fall of 77,000, with a 95% confidence interval of +/- 87,000.  This means that we can be 95% certain the actual change in unemployment was somewhere between -164,000 and +10,000, with the best estimate at -77,000.

Working with uncertain estimates

In general, changes in the numbers (and especially the rates) reported in this Statistical Bulletin between three month periods are small, and are not usually greater than the level that is explainable by sampling variability. In practice, this means that small, short-term movements in reported rates (for example within +/- 0.3 percentage points) should be treated as indicative, and considered alongside medium and long-term patterns in the series and corresponding movements in administrative sources, where available, to give a fuller picture.

Seasonal adjustment and uncertainty

Like many economic indicators, the labour market is affected by factors that tend to occur at around the same time every year; for example school leavers entering the labour market in July and whether Easter falls in March or April. In order to compare movements other than annual changes in labour market statistics, such as since the previous quarter or since the previous month, the data are seasonally adjusted to remove the effects of seasonal factors and the arrangement of the calendar. All estimates discussed in this Statistical Bulletin are seasonally adjusted except where otherwise stated.

While seasonal adjustment is essential to allow for robust comparisons through time, it is not possible to estimate uncertainty measures for the seasonally adjusted series.

Where to find data about uncertainty and reliability

Data table A11 (48 Kb Excel sheet) shows sampling variabilities for estimates derived from the Labour Force Survey.

Data table JOBS07 (44.5 Kb Excel sheet) shows sampling variabilities for estimates of workforce jobs.

The sampling variability of the three month average vacancies level is around +/- 1.5% of that level.

Sampling variability information for Average Weekly Earnings growth rates are available from the “Sampling Variability” worksheets within data tables EARN01 (472 Kb Excel sheet) and EARN03 (580 Kb Excel sheet) .

Other Quality Information

Quality and Methodology Information papers for labour market statistics are available on the website.

Further information about the Labour Force Survey (LFS) is available from:

Background notes

  1. This month’s release   
    There have been revisions to estimates of vacancies back to the start of the time series in 2001 resulting from the annual review of the seasonal adjustment process and taking on board the latest estimates of workforce jobs for the estimates of vacancies per 100 employee jobs. 

  2. Next month’s release  
    There are no major developments planned for next month's release.

  3. Introduction of Universal Credit 
    The Pathfinder for Universal Credit started on 29 April 2013 with the introduction of this new benefit in one Jobcentre Plus office (Ashton under Lyne). The pathfinder was extended to a second Jobcentre Plus office (Wigan) on 1 July 2013 and two further offices (Oldham and Warrington) joined the pathfinder on 29 July 2013.

    The progressive national roll out of Universal Credit across the rest of the UK commenced with Hammersmith Jobcentre Plus office on 28 October 2013 and was followed by Rugby and Inverness Jobcentre Plus offices on 25 November 2013 and Harrogate and Bath Jobcentre Plus offices on 24 February 2014. The Claimant Count date for February 2014 was 13 February.

    Universal Credit will replace a number of means-tested benefits including the means-tested element of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). It will not replace contributory based JSA.

    The Claimant Count measures the number of people claiming benefits principally for the reason of being unemployed. Since October 1996 it has been a count of the number of people claiming JSA. Following a consultation in 2012 by ONS, it was agreed that, with the introduction of Universal Credit, the Claimant Count would include:

    • people claiming contribution-based JSA (which is not affected by the introduction of Universal Credit),

    • people claiming income-based JSA during the transition period while this benefit is being gradually phased out, and

    • people claiming Universal Credit who are not earning and who are subject to a full set of labour market jobseeker requirements, that is required to be actively seeking work and available to start work.

    On 19 March 2014, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published a statistical release providing data for the number of people claiming Universal Credit. This release shows that 3,780 people were claiming Universal Credit on 31 December 2013. This total includes all claimants of Universal Credit, not just those who were jobseekers.

    The Claimant Count estimates from May 2013, published in this Statistical Bulletin, do not include claimants of Universal Credit. The absence of Universal Credit claimants is expected to have a small effect on the Claimant Count from May 2013. This assessment reflects the information published by DWP on 19 March 2014.

    ONS will include jobseeker Universal Credit claims in the Claimant Count statistics as soon as possible.

  4. Publication policy
    Publication dates up to the end of 2014 are available in the Background Notes to the June 2013 edition of this Statistical Bulletin. A list of the job titles of those given pre-publication access to the contents of this Statistical Bulletin is available on the website.

  5. 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

    The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs;
    • are well explained and readily accessible;
    • are produced according to sound methods; and
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Richard Clegg @ONSRichardClegg +44 (0)1633 455400 Labour Market Statistics Briefing labour.market@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Nick Palmer +44 (0)1633 455839 Labour Force Survey nicholas.palmer@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Bob Watson +44 (0)1633 455070 Claimant Count and Benefits bob.watson@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Mark Williams +44 (0)1633 456728 Workforce Jobs, Public Sector Employment and Vacancies mark.williams@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Ian Richardson +44 (0)1633 455780 Average Weekly Earnings ster@ons.gsi.gov.uk
John Allen +44 (0)1633 456086 Labour Productivity productivity@ons.gsi.gov.uk
James Scruton +44 (0)1633 456724 Labour Disputes james.scruton@ons.gsi.gov.uk
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