Regional labour market statistics in the UK: January 2020

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

This is the latest release. View previous releases

This is an accredited national statistic.

Contact:
Email Bob Watson

Release date:
21 January 2020

Next release:
18 February 2020

1. Main points

  • For the three months ending November 2019, the highest employment rate estimate in the UK was in the South West (79.8%) and the lowest was in the North East (71.4%).

  • For the three months ending November 2019, the highest unemployment rate estimate in the UK was in the North East (6.2%) and the lowest was in Northern Ireland (2.3%).

  • For the three months ending November 2019, the highest economic inactivity rate estimate in the UK was in Northern Ireland (25.7%) and the lowest was in the South East (17.5%).

  • Between June and September 2019, the largest estimated increase in workforce jobs in the UK was in the South West at 42,000, while the largest decrease was in the South East at 51,000.

  • In September 2019, the region with the highest estimated proportion of workforce jobs in the services sector was London at 91.8%, while the East Midlands had the highest proportion of jobs in the production sector at 13.6%.

  • The highest average estimated actual weekly hours worked, for the 12 months ending September 2019, was in London at 34.0 hours and the lowest was in the North East at 31.0 hours; for full-time and part-time workers it was highest for both in Northern Ireland, at 38.6 hours and 17.2 hours respectively.

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2. Summary of latest regional labour market statistics

Table 1 shows the latest estimates for employment, unemployment and economic inactivity for September to November 2019 and a comparison with the previous quarter (June to August 2019). Comparing non-overlapping periods (September to November 2019 with June to August 2019) provides a more robust short-term comparison.

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3. Things you need to know about this release

This bulletin shows the latest main labour market statistics for the regions and countries of the UK, along with statistics for local authorities, travel-to-work areas and Parliamentary constituencies.

Data for Northern Ireland, although included in this bulletin, are available in full separately, in the Northern Ireland Labour Market Report on the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) website.

Updated this month

Labour Force Survey estimates for the period September to November 2019.

Annual Population Survey estimates for the period October 2018 to September 2019.

Jobs densities for 2018.

Also in this release

Workforce jobs estimates for September 2019.

Labour market statistics

Labour market statistics measure many different aspects of work and jobs and provide an insight into the economy. They are also very much about people, including their participation in the labour force, the types of work they do, the earnings and benefits they receive and their working patterns.

We have developed a framework for labour market statistics to describe the concepts within the labour market and their relationship to each other. The framework is based on labour supply and demand.

Labour supply consists of people who are employed, as well as those people defined as unemployed or economically inactive, who are considered potential labour supply. Our framework distinguishes between these three categories of worker and between the different working arrangements of those in employment such as employees, the self-employed and those on government schemes.

Labour demand is represented by employers, who have a need for work to be done and who offer compensation for this work to the employees who undertake it. Employers group this work to form jobs.

This approach has wide international acceptance, including by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Users of labour market statistics include:

  • central and local government
  • economists
  • financial analysts
  • journalists
  • businesses
  • trade unions
  • employer associations
  • students
  • teachers
  • industrial tribunals
  • academic researchers
  • lobby groups

They use them for the analysis, evaluation, monitoring and planning of the labour market and economy. Labour market statistics are also used for social analysis and help inform a wide range of government policies towards population groups of concern (women, young people, older people and jobless households).

About labour market statuses

Everybody aged 16 years 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, as 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.

What is the relationship between the Annual Population Survey (APS) and the Labour Force Survey (LFS)?

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is a household survey using international definitions of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity. It compiles a wide range of related topics such as occupation, training, hours of work and personal characteristics of household members aged 16 years and over. Estimates are produced every month for a rolling three-monthly period; for example, February to April data in a release will be followed by data for March to May in the next release.

The Annual Population Survey (APS), which began in 2004, is compiled from interviews for the LFS, along with additional regional samples. The APS comprises the main variables from the LFS, with a much larger sample size. Consequently, the APS supports more detailed breakdowns than can be reliably produced from the LFS. Estimates are produced every quarter for a rolling annual period; for example, January to December data will be followed by data for April to March when they are next updated.

This bulletin includes labour market estimates at a regional level from the LFS on total employment, unemployment and economic inactivity. More detailed regional estimates for employment by age, full-time and part-time working, economic activity and economic inactivity by age, and reasons for economic inactivity are provided using the APS. Any estimates for geographical areas below regional level are provided using the APS. In tables where the APS estimates are provided for detailed geographical areas, regional and national estimates are also provided from the APS for comparability.

Making comparisons with earlier data

The most robust estimates of short-term movements in estimates derived from the Labour Force Survey are obtained by comparing the estimates for September to November 2019 with the estimates for June to August 2019, which were first published on 15 October 2019. This provides a more robust estimate than comparing with the estimates for August to October 2019. This is because the September and October 2019 data are included within both estimates, so observed differences are only between August and November 2019. The LFS is representative of the UK population over a three-month period, not for single-month periods.

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, the data are seasonally adjusted to remove the effects of seasonal factors and the arrangement of the calendar.

Where to find explanatory information

Guide to labour market statistics, which includes a glossary, is available.

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4. Employment

Things you need to know about employment

Employment measures the number of people in work; it differs from the number of jobs because some people have more than one job.

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

A comparison between estimates of employment and jobs is available.

Regional employment

The employment rate estimate for people aged from 16 to 64 years for the UK was 76.3% for the period September to November 2019. This is an increase of 0.5 percentage points compared with the previous period (June to August 2019) and is a record high employment rate.

The UK region with the highest employment rate estimate was the South West at 79.8%. The next highest employment rate estimate was seen in the South East at 79.7%, followed by the East of England at 78.5%. The highest estimated rate for the same period last year was also in the South West at 79.2%. There were record high employment rates and levels in the North West, East Midlands, London and Northern Ireland.

The region with the lowest employment rate estimate was the North East at 71.4%, followed by Northern Ireland at 72.6%; which although is the second-lowest in the UK, is a record high employment rate for the region. The lowest estimated rate for the same period last year was in Northern Ireland at 69.8%.

The largest increase in the employment rate estimates, compared with June to August 2019, was in the North West at 1.7 percentage points, followed by London at 1.4 percentage points. The increase in the rate estimate for the North West was particularly large, following a period of a year when estimates have been gently decreasing. Consequently the general pattern suggests a more modest growth over the year than suggested by the latest estimate. Employment rate estimates for London have been particularly volatile recently with the latest movement increasing from the lowest estimate in the last two years to a record high. However, the underlying pattern has been much flatter, with only gradual growth.

The largest decrease in the employment rate estimates, compared with June to August 2019, was for the South West at 1.1 percentage points, followed by Yorkshire and The Humber at 0.7 percentage points. Scotland was the only region that was largely unchanged compared with the previous period.

Over the year, the region with the largest increase in the employment rate was Northern Ireland, at 2.7 percentage points, followed by the West Midlands with an increase of 2.2 percentage points (Figure 1).

Over the year, Scotland saw the largest decrease in the employment rate at 1.0 percentage point, followed by Wales with a decrease of 0.9 percentage points.

Where to find data about employment

Employment estimates are available for each region in Dataset HI00 - Headline LFS indicators for all UK regions and HI01 to HI12 - Headline indicators for individual UK regions (Tabs 1 and 2), and Datasets LI01 to LI05 - Local indicators for subregional areas of Great Britain, for this and further estimate breakdowns by age or geographies. These datasets can all be found on the page: All data related to Regional labour market statistics in the UK: January 2020.

These tables contain data produced from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Annual Population Survey (APS). For information on the relationship between the LFS and APS, see "What is the relationship between the APS and the LFS?" in the "Things you need to know about this release" section of this bulletin.

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5. Workforce jobs (first published 17 December 2019)

Things you need to know about workforce jobs

Workforce jobs measures the number of filled jobs in the economy. The estimates are mainly sourced from employer surveys such as the Short-Term Employment Surveys (STES) and the Quarterly Public Sector Employment Survey (QPSES). Workforce jobs is a different concept from employment, which is sourced from the Labour Force Survey (LFS), as employment is an estimate of people and some people have more than one job.

A comparison between estimates of employment and jobs article is available.

The services sector consists of the following industries:

  • wholesale and retail trade
  • repair of motor vehicles and motor cycles, transport and storage
  • accommodation and food service activities
  • information and communication
  • financial and insurance activities
  • real estate activities
  • professional, scientific and technical activities
  • administrative and support service activities
  • public administration and defence
  • compulsory social security
  • education
  • human health and social work activities
  • arts, entertainment and recreation
  • other service activities
  • people employed by households

The production sector consists of the following industries:

  • mining and quarrying
  • manufacturing
  • electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply
  • water supply, sewerage, waste and remediation activities

The "other" sector consists of agriculture, forestry and fishing, and construction industries.

The Northern Ireland self-employed component of the workforce jobs is published by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) as part of the Economic and Labour Market Statistics.

Regional workforce jobs

For September 2019, there were an estimated 35.75 million workforce jobs in the UK, 77,000 more than for June 2019.

Workforce jobs increased in 8 of the 12 regions of the UK between June 2019 and September 2019. The largest estimated increase of 42,000 was in the South West, followed by London at 41,000.

The largest estimated decrease was in the South East at 51,000, followed by the West Midlands, which decreased by 12,000.

Compared with the same month last year (September 2018), the largest estimated increase in workforce jobs was in London at 118,000, followed by the East Midlands at 100,000. There were no decreases in the annual change in workforce jobs in any region of the UK (Figure 2).

The East Midlands had the highest proportion of jobs in the production sector at 13.6% (Figure 3), while London had the lowest proportion at 2.9%. This is because London has primarily service-based industries within its region, such as financial and administrative sectors.

For the services sector, London had the highest proportion at 91.8%, while Northern Ireland had the lowest proportion at 78.4%. The services sector currently accounts for 83.7% of the total workforce jobs in the UK.

Where to find data about workforce jobs

Workforce jobs estimates are available for each region in Datasets HI01 to HI12 - Headline indicators for individual UK regions (Tabs 4 and 5).

While comparable estimates for workforce jobs by industry begin in 1978, there is information back to 1841, based on census data (not comparable with the latest estimates), available from the 2011 Census Analysis.

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6. Actual hours worked

Things you need to know about 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.

Regional actual hours worked

For the period October 2018 to September 2019, the UK region with the highest estimated average actual weekly hours worked (for all workers) was London at 34.0 hours, followed by Northern Ireland at 33.6 hours. The North East had the lowest number of hours worked at 31.0 hours.

The UK region with the largest increase in the average hours worked, compared with the same period last year (October 2017 to September 2018) was the South East with an increase of 0.6 hours. The largest decrease in the average hours worked was in the North East with a decrease of 0.6 hours.

The region with the highest average actual weekly hours worked in full-time jobs was Northern Ireland at 38.6 hours. This is an increase of 0.2 hours compared with the same period last year. The regions with the lowest average actual weekly hours worked in full-time jobs were the North East and East of England, both at 36.1 hours. For part-time jobs, the region with the highest average hours worked was Northern Ireland at 17.2 hours and the region with the lowest was the South West at 15.9 hours.

For men, the region with the highest average hours worked was Northern Ireland at 38.6 hours and for women it was London at 29.8 hours. The largest difference in average hours worked between men and women was in Northern Ireland, where men worked on average 10.4 more hours per week than women. The largest change compared with the same period last year (October 2017 to September 2018) was seen for women in the South East, where the average hours worked increased by 1.1 hours to 27.2 hours. For men, the largest change was in the North East, where the average hours worked decreased by 0.8 hours to 35.0 hours per week (Figure 4).

The region with the largest difference in total hours worked between men and women was London, where men worked a total of 32.0 million more hours than women. The regions with the smallest difference were Northern Ireland and the North East, where men in both worked only 6.0 million more hours than women.

Where to find data about hours worked

Hours worked estimates are available for each region in Datasets HI01 to HI12 - Headline indicators for individual UK regions (Tab 6). These estimates are based on data from the Annual Population Survey (APS).

The national data are also available in the UK labour market statistical bulletin in Datasets HOUR01 SA: Actual weekly hours worked (seasonally adjusted) and HOUR02 SA: Usual weekly hours worked (seasonally adjusted). These estimates are based on data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

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7. Unemployment

Things you need to know about 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.

Regional unemployment

Regional estimates for the unemployment rate are quite volatile, which needs to be allowed for when considering the pattern of change over time.

The unemployment rate estimate for people aged 16 years and over for the UK was 3.8%, for the period September to November 2019; largely unchanged compared with the previous period (June to August 2019) (Figure 5).

The highest unemployment rate estimate in the UK for September to November 2019 was for the North East at 6.2%, followed by Yorkshire and The Humber, the West Midlands and London, all at 4.3%. The region with the lowest estimated unemployment rate was Northern Ireland at 2.3%. This was followed by the South West, with an unemployment rate of 2.8%. It is also worth noting that Wales had a record low unemployment level and rate at 3.0%.

The South West had the largest increase in the unemployment rate on the previous period (June to August 2019) at 0.5 percentage points, followed by the North East at 0.4 percentage points. Whilst the unemployment rates for most regions have recently been generally flat or falling, the estimate for the North East has been gently increasing.

The largest decrease in the unemployment rate estimate was in Wales at 1.2 percentage points, followed by the East Midlands and Northern Ireland, both with a decrease of 0.6 percentage points.

The region with the largest increase in the unemployment rate estimate over the year was the North East at 0.7 percentage points, followed by the North West, East of England and Scotland, all at 0.2 percentage points. The largest decreases were in Northern Ireland at 1.2 percentage points and Wales at 1.1 percentage points.

Where to find data about unemployment

Unemployment estimates are available for each region in Dataset HI00 - Headline LFS indicators for all UK regions and HI01 to HI12 - Headline indicators for individual UK regions (Tab 2(2)), and Datasets LI01 to LI05 - Local indicators for subregional areas of Great Britain, for further estimate breakdowns by age or geographies. These datasets can all be found on the page: All data related to Regional labour market statistics in the UK: January 2020.

These tables contain data produced from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Annual Population Survey (APS). For information on the relationship between the LFS and APS, see "What is the relationship between the APS and the LFS?" in the "Things you need to know about this release" section of this bulletin.

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8. Economic inactivity

Things you need to know about economic inactivity

Economically inactive people are not in employment but do not meet the internationally accepted definition of unemployment. This is 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.

Regional economic inactivity

The estimated economic inactivity rate for people aged from 16 to 64 years for the UK was 20.6%, for the period September to November 2019; a record low inactivity rate and a decrease of 0.4 percentage points compared with the previous period (June to August 2019).

The UK region with the highest estimated rate was Northern Ireland at 25.7%, followed by the North East at 24.0%. Northern Ireland also had the highest economic inactivity rate, at 27.5%, in the same period last year. The current estimated rate in Northern Ireland is 5.1 percentage points higher than the UK rate.

The region with the lowest estimated rate was the South East at 17.5%, followed by the South West at 17.8% (Figure 6). It is also worth noting that the economic inactivity rate and level for the North West and the economic inactivity rate for the West Midlands are all at record lows.

The region with the largest increase in the economic inactivity rate estimate on the previous period (June to August 2019) was the South West at 0.8 percentage points, followed by Yorkshire and The Humber at 0.4 percentage points. The region with the largest decrease in the economic inactivity rate estimate was the North West at 1.8 percentage points, followed by London at 1.2 percentage points.

Over the year, the region with the largest increase in the economic inactivity rate estimate was Wales at 1.9 percentage points, followed by Yorkshire and The Humber at 1.3 percentage points. The region with the largest decrease in the inactivity rate estimate was Northern Ireland at 1.9 percentage points, followed by the West Midlands at 1.6 percentage points.

Where to find data about economic inactivity

Economic inactivity estimates are available for each region in Dataset HI00 - Headline LFS indicators for all UK regions and HI01 to HI12 - Headline indicators for individual UK regions (Tabs 10 and 11), and Datasets LI01 to LI05 - Local indicators for subregional areas of Great Britain, for further estimate breakdowns by age, reason or geographies. These datasets can all be found on the page: All data related to Regional labour market statistics in the UK: January 2020.

These tables contain data produced from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Annual Population Survey (APS). For information on the relationship between the LFS and APS, see "What is the relationship between the APS and the LFS?" in the "Things you need to know about this release" section of this bulletin.

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9. Local labour market indicators

Things you need to know about labour market indicators

Local labour market indicators cover employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and jobs density, for subregional 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.

Indicators from the Annual Population Survey

For the period October 2018 to September 2019, the local authorities with the highest employment rate estimates in the UK were Hart in Hampshire at 90.3%, the Shetland Islands at 90.2% and Woking at 89.7%. Kensington and Chelsea was the local authority with the lowest rate at 62.9%, followed by Middlesbrough at 64.0%.

For the period October 2018 to September 2019, the local authorities with the highest unemployment rate estimates in Great Britain were Hartlepool at 8.4%, followed by Birmingham at 7.8%. The local authorities with the lowest rates were Eden in Cumbria at 1.6%, followed by South Lakeland and South Cambridgeshire, both at 1.7%.

Jobs densities

The jobs density of an area is the number of jobs per head, of resident population, aged 16 to 64 years. A high jobs density would represent an employment centre, where people commute to for work. A low jobs density would represent an area with fewer jobs, where people would commute from for work.

In 2018, the highest jobs density estimate in Great Britain was the City of London at 110.11 and the lowest was Lewisham at 0.40. Westminster (4.28) and Camden (2.17), both in London, were the next highest jobs densities. The highest jobs density estimate outside London was Watford at 1.80. After Lewisham, the lowest jobs densities were East Renfrewshire at 0.45, followed by East Dunbartonshire, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, all at 0.47.

Where to find data about local labour market indicators

Annual Population Survey (APS) estimates are available in Datasets LI01 to LI05 - Local indicators for subregional areas of Great Britain.

Claimant Count estimates are available in Datasets CC01 - Claimant Count by unitary and local authority and CC02 - Claimant Count by Parliamentary constituency, CC02.1 - Claimant Count for constituencies of the Scottish Parliament, and CC03 - Claimant Count for local enterprise partnerships in this statistical bulletin.

These datasets can all be found on the page: All data related to Regional labour market statistics in the UK: January 2020.

These tables contain data produced from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Annual Population Survey (APS). For information on the relationship between the LFS and APS, see "What is the relationship between the APS and the LFS?" in the "Things you need to know about this release" section of this bulletin.

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10. Future publication dates

Tuesday 18 February 2020
Tuesday 17 March 2020
Tuesday 21 April 2020
Tuesday 19 May 2020
Tuesday 16 June 2020
Tuesday 14 July 2020

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12. Quality and methodology

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 plus or minus 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.

Quality information

One indication of the reliability of the main indicators in this bulletin can be obtained by monitoring the size of revisions. These summary measures are available in Dataset S02 Regional labour market: Sampling variability and revisions summary and show the size of revisions over the last five years.

The revised data may be subject to sampling or other sources of error. Our standard presentation is to show five years' worth of revisions (that is, 60 observations for a monthly series, 20 for a quarterly series).

Other quality information

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the labour market QMIs:

Further information about the Labour Force Survey (LFS) is available from the Labour Force Survey - user guide.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Bob Watson
Labour.Supply@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 455070