Other commentary from the latest labour market data can be found on the following pages:
January to March 2023 estimates show increases in the employment rate and the unemployment rate compared with the previous quarter (October to December 2022), while the economic inactivity rate decreased.
Total hours worked increased compared with the previous quarter and are just slightly below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels.
The UK employment rate was estimated at 75.9%, 0.2 percentage points higher than the previous quarter and 0.7 percentage points lower than before the coronavirus pandemic (December 2019 to February 2020).
The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.9%, 0.1 percentage points higher than the previous quarter and 0.1 percentage points below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.
The UK economic inactivity rate was estimated at 21.0%, 0.4 percentage points lower than the previous quarter and 0.8 percentage points higher than before the coronavirus pandemic.
|Level or Rate||Change on|
to February 2020
16 to 64 years)
aged 16 to 64
(aged 16 to
Download this table Table 1: January to March 2023 headline measures and changes.xls .csv
Figure 1: January to March 2023 estimates show increases in the employment and unemployment rates, while the economic inactivity rate decreased
UK employment, unemployment and economic inactivity rates, seasonally adjusted, between January to March 2008 and January to March 2023
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Flows estimates show that, between October to December 2022 and January to March 2023, there has been a record high net flow out of economic inactivity (Figure 2). This was driven by people moving from economic inactivity to employment, with 63% of the inflows to employment coming from economic inactivity.
Additionally, job-to-job flows remain high but have fallen from their recent peak, and continue to be driven by resignations.
Figure 2: Between October to December 2022 and January to March 2023, there was a record high movement of people out of economic inactivity
UK flows between employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity, people aged 16 to 64 years, seasonally adjusted, October to December 2022 and January to March 2023
Download the data
During the first year of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there was a decrease in the employment rate and increases in the economic inactivity and unemployment rates for both men and women. However, the unemployment rates for both men and women have now returned to levels similar to those seen before the coronavirus.
In the latest quarter, the increase in the employment rate, the increase in the unemployment rate, and the decrease in economic inactivity rate were largely driven by men.
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Following an increase in the employment rate since early 2012, the rate decreased from the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. There has largely been an increase since the end of 2020, and the employment rate increased during the latest quarter.
The number of full-time employees decreased during the latest quarter but are still above pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. Part-time employees had generally been decreasing since the beginning of 2022, however, they saw an increase during the latest quarter. The number of self-employed workers fell in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic. However, both full-time and part-time self-employed workers have increased in the latest quarter, with the number of part-time self-employed workers now above pre-coronavirus pandemic levels (Figure 4).
The number of people in employment with second jobs fell in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. It has been steadily increasing and has increased during the latest quarter to 1.26 million (3.8% of people in employment).
Total actual weekly hours worked in the UK have been generally increasing since the relaxation of coronavirus lockdown measures. However, this was followed by a slight decrease since April to June 2022. In the latest quarter, total actual weekly hours worked increased by 16.3 million hours to 1.05 billion hours in January to March 2023 (Figure 5). This is 0.2 million hours below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels (December 2019 to February 2020).
The increase in the latest quarter was largely driven by men who remain below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. Total actual weekly hours worked by women also increased and are above pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.
After falling sharply in the early stages of the pandemic, average actual weekly hours worked have now returned to levels similar to those seen before the coronavirus pandemic and increased in the latest quarter. The actual weekly hours worked have recently been affected by additional bank holidays in the summer and autumn and strikes in recent periods.
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The unemployment rate had generally been falling since late 2013 until the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It increased until the end of 2020, but has now returned to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. Over the latest quarter, the unemployment rate increased.
In the latest quarter, the number of people unemployed for up to 6 months and those unemployed for over 12 months increased compared with the previous quarter. Meanwhile those unemployed between 6 to 12 months decreased in the latest quarter (Figure 6).Back to table of contents
Since comparable records began in 1971, the economic inactivity rate had generally been falling; however, it increased during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It decreased in January to March 2023 compared with the previous quarter.
Increases in economic inactivity in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic were largely driven by those aged 16 to 24 years, while more recent increases were driven by those aged 50 to 64 years (Figure 7). The decrease in the latest quarter (January to March 2023) was largely driven by those aged 16 to 24 years, while those aged 50 to 64 years increased.
The increase in economic inactivity since the start of the coronavirus pandemic had been largely driven by those who were long-term sick and those inactive for other reasons (Figure 8).
The decrease in economic inactivity during the latest quarter (January to March 2023) was largely driven by those inactive because they were students, those inactive for other reasons, and those looking after the family or home. Meanwhile, those inactive because of long-term sickness increased to a record high.Back to table of contents
In January to March 2023, the number of people reporting redundancy in the three months before being interviewed decreased by 0.7 per thousand employees compared with the previous quarter, to 2.8 per thousand employees (Figure 9).
We are now also publishing a table showing potential redundancies, covering those notified by employers to the Insolvency Service through the HR1 form, broken down by region and industry.Back to table of contents
Employment, unemployment and economic inactivity by age group (seasonally adjusted)
Dataset A05 SA | Released 16 May 2023
Employment, unemployment and economic inactivity levels and rates by age group, UK, rolling three-monthly figures, seasonally adjusted. Labour Force Survey.
Full-time, part-time and temporary workers (seasonally adjusted)
Dataset EMP01 SA | Released 16 May 2023
Full-time, part-time and temporary workers, by sex, UK, rolling three-monthly figures published monthly, seasonally adjusted. Labour Force Survey.
Actual weekly hours worked (seasonally adjusted)
Dataset HOUR01 SA | Released 16 May 2023
Actual weekly hours worked including by sex, full-time, part-time and second jobs, UK, rolling three-monthly figures published monthly, seasonally adjusted. Labour Force Survey.
Unemployment by age and duration (seasonally adjusted)
Dataset UNEM01 SA | Released 16 May 2023
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 16 May 2023
Economic inactivity (aged 16 to 64 years) by reason (seasonally adjusted). These estimates are sourced from the Labour Force Survey, a survey of households.
Impact of LFS reweighting on key Labour Force Survey indicators
Dataset X08 | Released 14 June 2022
Estimates of key LFS indicators using both old and new weighting methodology, and the revisions between the two series.
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.
The Claimant Count is an Experimental Statistic 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.
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 measures 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.
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 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. 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.Back to table of contents
This bulletin relies on data collected from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the largest household survey in the UK.
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.
The LFS performance and quality monitoring reports provide data on response rates and other quality-related issues for the LFS.
Making our published spreadsheets accessible
Following the Government Statistical Service (GSS) guidance on releasing statistics in spreadsheets, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Occupational data in Office for National Statistics (ONS) surveys
Following our The impact of miscoding of occupational data in Office for National Statistics social surveys, UK article published in September 2022, we intend to revise LFS estimates based on this coding alongside the July 2023 labour market release. We will also be updating Annual Population Survey estimates published on Nomis at this time. An article giving more detail on the revision methodology and its impact is expected to be released alongside the data.Back to table of contents
Uncertainty in these data
The estimates presented in this bulletin contain uncertainty.
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.
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 dataset.
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.
The 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 A guide to labour market statistics.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
Telephone: +44 1633 455400