Labour market in the regions of the UK: August 2021

Regional, local authority and Parliamentary constituency breakdowns of changes in UK employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and other related statistics.

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17 August 2021

The effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on our capacity means we have reviewed the existing labour market releases and have suspended some publications.

This will protect the delivery and quality of our remaining labour market outputs as well as ensuring we can respond to new demands as a direct result of the coronavirus. More details about the impact on labour market outputs can be found in our statement.

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Release date:
17 August 2021

Next release:
14 September 2021

2. Main points

  • Over the course of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, payrolled employee growth rates in all regions followed a similar pattern: rapidly declining and becoming negative from April 2020 but beginning to improve again in recent months.

  • In July 2021, the numbers of payrolled employees in the UK for the regions ranged from 763,000 in Northern Ireland, to 4,067,000 in the South East; the North East, North West, East Midlands and Northern Ireland continue to be above pre-coronavirus (February 2020) levels.

  • For the three months ending June 2021, the highest employment rate estimate in the UK was in the East of England (78.1%) and the lowest was in Northern Ireland (71.1%).

  • The North West saw the largest change in employment rate estimate compared with the previous year, with a decrease of 2.0 percentage points; the West Midlands saw a record increase of 1.6 percentage points compared with the previous quarter (January to March 2021).

  • For the three months ending June 2021, the highest unemployment rate estimate in the UK was in London (6.4%) and the lowest was in the South West (3.6%); London saw the largest change compared with the same period last year, with an increase of 1.5 percentage points.

  • For the three months ending June 2021, the highest economic inactivity rate estimate in the UK was in Northern Ireland (25.9%) and the lowest was in the South East (18.4%); the North East and North West saw the largest changes compared with the same period last year, both with an increase of 1.4 percentage points.

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3. Latest headline estimates

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4. Regional labour market data

Headline Labour Force Survey indicators for all regions
Dataset HI00 | Released 17 August 2021
Headline labour market indicators from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) for all the UK regions. These cover economic activity, employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity. Datasets HI01 to HI12 provide all regional level indicators for each region of the UK.

Claimant Count by unitary and local authority (experimental)
Dataset CC01 | Released 17 August 2021
Claimant Count for people resident in local and unitary authorities, counties, and regions of the UK.

Regional labour market summary
Dataset S01 | Released 17 August 2021
Labour market indicators for countries and regions of the UK, covering employment, unemployment, Claimant Count, and workforce jobs.

Local indicators for counties and local and unitary authorities
Dataset LI01 | Released 20 April 2021
Labour market indicators for local and unitary authorities, counties, and regions in Great Britain for a 12-month period.

Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, seasonally adjusted
Dataset | Released 17 August 2021
Earnings and employment statistics from Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) (Experimental Statistics) seasonally adjusted.

All regional labour market datasets used in this bulletin are available on the Related data page.

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5. 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.

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 they 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. A more detailed explanation is available in our guide to labour market statistics.

Local labour market indicators

Local labour market indicators cover employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and jobs density for sub-regional geographical areas such as local and unitary authorities, counties and regions in the UK for the most recent 12-month period available of the Annual Population Survey (APS). The jobs density of an area is the number of jobs per head, of resident population, aged 16 to 64 years.

Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI)

These data come from HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) system. They cover the whole population rather than a sample of people or companies, and they will allow for more detailed estimates of the population. The release is classed as Experimental Statistics as the methodologies used to produce the statistics are still in their development phase. As a result, the series are subject to revisions.

PAYE is the system employers and pension providers use to take Income Tax and National Insurance contributions before they pay wages or pensions to employees and pensioners. This publication relates to employees only and not pensioners.


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 who are unemployed. It is the proportion of the economically active population (those in work plus those seeking and available to work) who are unemployed.

more detailed glossary is available.

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6. Measuring the data

This bulletin relies on data collected from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), and the Annual Population Survey (APS) derived from it, the largest household survey in the UK.

Quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations and appropriate uses, is available in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) QMI. The LFS performance and quality monitoring reports provide data on response rates and quality-related issues.

Data for Northern Ireland are available in full in the Northern Ireland Labour Market Report on the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) website. Local area statistics are available from Nomis.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

For information on how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see the article published on 6 May 2020, detailing some of the challenges that we have faced in producing estimates.

An article published on 11 December 2020 compares our labour market data sources and discusses some of the main differences.

Labour Force Survey (LFS) responses published from 15 July 2021 have been reweighted to new populations using growth rates from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Real Time Information (RTI), to allow for different trends during the coronavirus pandemic. The reweighting gives improved estimates of both rates and levels.

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7. Strengths and limitations

The estimates presented in this bulletin contain uncertainty. The Labour Force Survey (LFS) gathers information from a sample of households across the UK. The sample is designed to be as accurate as possible given practical limitations. This can have an impact on how changes in the estimates should be interpreted, especially for short-term comparisons.

As the number of people in the sample gets smaller, the variability of the estimates that we can make from that sample gets larger. Estimates for small groups, which are based on small subsets of the 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 between three-month periods are small and are not usually greater than the level that is explained by sampling variability. For a fuller picture, short-term movements in reported rates should be considered alongside longer-term patterns in the series and corresponding movements in other sources.

Information on the quality of estimates is available in Labour Force Survey sampling variability.

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 reconciliation report of job estimates article, which compares the latest Workforce Jobs estimates with the equivalent estimates of jobs from the LFS (published every March) has been postponed until further adjustments are made.

Reliability of the main indicators in this bulletin can be obtained by monitoring the size of revisions. These measures are available in the Regional Sampling variability and revisions summary.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Bob Watson
Telephone: +44 1633 455070