In September 2021, only London and Scotland had fewer payrolled employees than before the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; London is the furthest behind its pre-pandemic levels but saw the largest increase between August and September 2021.
For the three months ending August 2021, the highest employment rate estimate in the UK was in the East of England (79.1%) and the lowest was in Northern Ireland (71.1%).
The East of England had a record high employment level (3.14m), with the rate being the highest since May to July 2019; the largest increase compared with the same period last year, along with the East of England, was Wales, both increasing by 1.8 percentage points.
For the three months ending August 2021, the highest unemployment rate estimate in the UK was in London (5.8%) and the lowest was in the South West (3.4%); the North East saw the largest change in the unemployment rate compared with the previous year, with a decrease of 1.3 percentage points.
For the three months ending August 2021, the highest economic inactivity rate estimate in the UK was in Northern Ireland (25.8%) and the lowest was in the East of England (17.9%) – a record low economic inactivity rate for the region; Wales saw the largest decrease in the economic inactivity rate compared with last year, at 2.1 percentage points, and the North West had the largest increase in the economic inactivity rate, at 1.5 percentage points.
For the 12 months ending June 2021, average weekly hours worked varied between London, with 31.9 hours worked, and the North East, with 29.3 hours worked; all regions saw an increase in the average weekly hours worked compared with the same period last year, except for Northern Ireland, which was unchanged.
Wales saw the largest increase of 1.2 hours per week for average weekly hours, while for total weekly hours worked, the East of England saw the largest increase compared with the same period last year, up 709,000 hours per week; the East Midlands saw the largest decrease, at 1.2 million hours per week.
aged 16 to
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rate² (%) aged
16 years and
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aged 16 to
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|Yorkshire and |
Download this table Table 1: Summary of latest headline estimates⁴,⁵ and quarterly changes, for regions of the UK, seasonally adjusted, June to August 2021.xls .csv
aged 16 to
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aged 16 years
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aged 16 to
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|Yorkshire and |
Download this table Table 2: Summary of latest headline estimates⁴,⁵ and annual changes, for regions of the UK, seasonally adjusted, June to August 2021.xls .csv
Headline Labour Force Survey indicators for all regions
Dataset HI00 | Released 12 October 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 12 October 2021
Claimant Count for people resident in local and unitary authorities, counties, and regions of the UK.
Regional labour market summary
Dataset S01 | Released 12 October 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 12 October 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 12 October 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.
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.
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.
A more detailed glossary is available.Back to table of contents
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) Quality and Methodology Information (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. You can view local area statistics on the Nomis website.
For information on how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see our Coronavirus and the effects on UK labour market statistics article, published on 6 May 2020. This article details some of the challenges that we have faced in producing estimates.
Our Comparison of labour market data sources 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's) Real Time Information (RTI), to allow for different trends during the coronavirus pandemic. Our Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators, UK: 2020 article explains the reweighting methodology, which gives improved estimates of both rates and levels.
When the recent weighting methodology for the Labour Force Survey (LFS) was applied, there was a small error in the implementation. When calculating three-month averages for the PAYE real-time information (RTI) the months used were the previous three-month average. For example, for the October to December period, the RTI data used were those for September to November. This led to a slight overestimation of the non-UK population by approximately 0.5%. This represents less than half the size of the sampling variability. The size is roughly the same over the quarters of 2020 and the impact on January to December 2020 Annual Population Survey (APS) estimates is about 14,000 for EU-born, 25,000 for non-EU born and 39,000 for non-UK born. The impact on LFS economic activity estimates at national level is mostly below 0.1% and the impact on rates is less than 0.02 percentage points.
Consultation on the Code of Practice for Statistics – proposed change to 9.30am release practice
On behalf of the UK Statistics Authority, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is conducting a consultation on the Code of Practice for Statistics, proposing changes to the 9.30am release practice. Please send comments by 21 December 2021 to firstname.lastname@example.org.Back to table of contents
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 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. For more information, the Resolution concerning statistics of work, employment and labour underutilization publication is available to download from the ILO website.
Our 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 dataset.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
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