Employment in the UK: June 2024

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

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Contact:
Email Labour Market team

Release date:
11 June 2024

Next release:
18 July 2024

2. Main points

  • Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates have been weighted to population estimates published in November 2023 for periods from July to September 2022; headline UK seasonally adjusted series prior to this have been modelled, but other series have a discontinuity at this point.
  • Increased volatility of LFS estimates, resulting from smaller achieved sample sizes, means that estimates of quarterly change should be treated with additional caution, and we recommend using them as part of our suite of labour market indicators alongside Workforce Jobs, Claimant Count data, and Pay As You Earn Real Time Information (PAYE RTI) estimates.
  • The UK employment rate for February to April 2024 (74.3%) remains below estimates of a year ago (February to April 2023), and decreased in the latest quarter.
  • The UK unemployment rate for February to April 2024 (4.4%) is above estimates of a year ago (February to April 2023), and increased in the latest quarter.
  • The UK economic inactivity rate for February to April 2024 (22.3%) is above estimates of a year ago (February to April 2023), and increased in the latest quarter.

The ongoing challenges with response rates and levels mean that LFS-based labour market statistics will be badged as official statistics in development until further review.

Read more in Section 11: Measuring the data.

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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 February to April 2024.

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 our Coronavirus and its impact on the Labour Force Survey article.

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, an adjusted Labour Force Survey weighting methodology was introduced in July 2021. Further information is available in our Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators, UK: 2022 article.

From our February 2024 labour market release, LFS periods from July to September 2022 onwards have been reweighted to incorporate estimates of the size and composition of the UK population published in November 2023. This reweighting creates a discontinuity between June to August 2022 and July to September 2022. Users should take this discontinuity into consideration when considering long-term movements in the series.

However, we have modelled the seasonally adjusted UK levels of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity by sex and age band back to the start of the population revisions in June to August 2011. This has been done by scaling to the population estimates used from July to September 2022, while taking account of the relative revisions to population by sex and age band in each year over the revision period. This ensures that the headline series in Table 1, Table 2 (1) and Table 2 (2) (also available in A02SA, A05SA and A01 Tables 1 and 2) are comparable over the full series.

This reweighting does not address the volatility seen in recent periods and this may be seen to some extent in the future. Therefore, we advise increased caution when interpreting short-term changes in series and recommend using them as part of a suite of labour market indicators, alongside Workforce Jobs, Claimant Count data and Pay As You Earn Real Time Information (PAYE RTI) estimates.

LFS estimates are currently not considered National Statistics and are currently designated as official statistics in development.

For further information, please see our Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators, UK: 2024 article.

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4. Summary

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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 had largely been an increase since the end of 2020, but the rate has been decreasing since mid-2023. In the latest quarter, the employment rate decreased and remains below pre-coronavirus levels.

The quarterly decrease was largely because of full-time employees, but this was partially offset by an increase in part-time employees and full-time self-employed workers. Meanwhile, the annual decrease was largely because of part-time workers.

We also publish estimates of payrolled employees in our Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, UK bulletin and estimates of the number of jobs in our Vacancies and jobs in the UK bulletin.

Hours worked

The number of total actual weekly hours worked has been generally increasing in the UK since the relaxation of coronavirus lockdown measures, but was largely flat during 2023. In the latest period (February to April 2024), total actual weekly hours worked decreased on the quarter to 1.05 billion hours and are below the level a year ago (February to April 2023). Men’s hours worked decreased on the quarter, whereas women’s hours worked increased.

Average actual weekly hours worked increased to 32.0 hours per working week, up 0.1 hours per week on the quarter and on the year.

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6. Unemployment

Following decreases in the unemployment rate since late 2013, the unemployment rate increased during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. From early 2021, it decreased to below pre-coronavirus rates by mid-2022. The unemployment rate has been largely increasing since then, despite a period of decrease during the latter half of 2023. In the latest quarter, the unemployment rate increased.

In February to April 2024, the number of those unemployed for up to 6 months increased, and remains above levels of a year ago (February to April 2023). Those unemployed for over 6 and up to 12 months and those unemployed for over 12 months also increased in the latest quarter following falls in the second half of 2023, and are above estimates of a year ago.

We also publish the Claimant Count, a measure of the number of people who are receiving a benefit principally for the reason of being unemployed. The UK Claimant Count for May 2024 increased on the month and on the year, to 1.629 million.

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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 and fluctuated around this increased rate. In the latest quarter, the economic inactivity rate increased.

Increases in economic inactivity in the first year of the pandemic were largely among those aged 16 to 24 years. Following the pandemic, increases were largely among those aged 50 to 64 years.

Increases in economic inactivity over the latest quarter were largely because of those aged 50 to 64 years. Meanwhile, the annual increase was largely because of those aged 16 to 24 years.

The increase in economic inactivity in the latest quarter was largely among those inactive because they were looking after family and home, long-term sick, or temporarily sick. The annual increase was largely because of students and those who were long-term sick.

We also publish estimates of economic inactivity by reason and age from the Annual Population Survey (APS). Latest APS estimates, up to January to December 2023, show the majority of those who were inactive because of long-term sickness were aged 50 to 64 years, although long-term sickness has been increasing across all age groups.

APS estimates have not been reweighted to the same populations as the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Consequently, all APS tables remain weighted to the previous population totals, which will be inconsistent with those used for the LFS in the latest periods. More information on the relationship between the APS and LFS is available in our Comparison of labour market data sources.

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8. Redundancies

The number of people reporting redundancy in the three months prior to interview decreased by 1.2 per thousand employees in February to April 2024 compared with the previous quarter, to 3.4 per thousand employees. The redundancy rate, however, remains slightly above the rate of a year ago (February to April 2023).

We also publish our HR1: Potential redundancies dataset showing potential redundancies, covering those notified by employers to the Insolvency Service through the 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 11 June 2024
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 11 June 2024
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 11 June 2024
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 11 June 2024
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 11 June 2024
Economic inactivity (aged 16 to 64 years) by reason (seasonally adjusted). These estimates are sourced from the Labour Force Survey, a survey of households.

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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 official statistic in development 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 Univeral 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

The term employment refers to 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 the number of 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.

Official statistics in development

These statistics are labelled as “official statistics in development”. Until September 2023, these were called “experimental statistics”. Read more about the change in our guide to official statistics in development.

These statistics are based on information from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The reweighting exercise has improved the representativeness of our LFS estimates for periods from July to September 2022, reducing potential bias in our estimates. Nonetheless, the ongoing challenges with response rates and levels mean that LFS-based labour market statistics are now badged as official statistics in development until further review. This is also in line with the letter from the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), stating that LFS statistics should not be published as accredited official statistics until OSR has reviewed them. We would advise caution when interpreting short-term changes in headline LFS rates and recommend using them as part of our suite of labour market indicators alongside Workforce Jobs, claimant count data and Pay As You Earn Real Time Information (PAYE RTI) estimates.

We are transforming how we collect and produce the LFS data to improve the quality of these statistics. We have published a Labour market transformation article providing an update on the transformation of labour market statistics. The Transformed Labour Force Survey will become the primary source of information on the labour market from September 2024.

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.

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Read more about how the labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus pandemic in our Coronavirus and the effects on UK labour market statistics article.

For a comparison of our labour market data sources and the main differences, read our Comparison of our labour market data sources methodology.

Making our published spreadsheets accessible

Following the Government Statistical Service (GSS) guidance on Government Statistical Service (GSS) guidance on releasing statistics in speadsheets, 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.

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12. Strengths and limitations

Uncertainty in these data

The estimates presented in this bulletin contain uncertainty. For more information on uncertainty, please see our Uncertainty and how we measure it for our surveys web page.

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. For more information on sampling, see Section 2 of our Uncertainty and how we measure it for our surveys webpage.

!

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 quarters 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.

Further information is available in our guide to labour market statistics.

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14. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistical (ONS), released 11 June 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Employment in the UK: June 2024

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Labour Market team
labour.market@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 1633 455400