Our most timely estimate of payrolled employees indicates that in December 2021 there were 29.5 million employees in the UK: up 184,000 on the revised November 2021 level and up 409,000 on the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) February 2020 level. All regions are now above pre-coronavirus levels, with Scotland having the largest percentage increase on the month.
Our latest Labour Force Survey estimates for September to November 2021 show a continuing recovery in the labour market, with a quarterly increase in the employment rate, while the unemployment rate decreased.
The UK employment rate increased by 0.2 percentage points on the quarter to 75.5%. The number of part-time workers decreased strongly during the pandemic, but has been increasing since April to June 2021, driving the increase in employment during the latest three-month period.
The unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points on the quarter to 4.1%, while the economic inactivity rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 21.3%. The redundancy rate decreased to a record low following the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The number of job vacancies in October to December 2021 rose to a new record of 1,247,000, an increase of 462,000 from its pre-coronavirus January to March 2020 level, with most industries displaying record numbers of vacancies. However, the rate of growth in vacancies continued to slow down. The ratio of vacancies to every 100 employee jobs reached a record high 4.1 in October to December 2021.
Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 4.2% and growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 3.8% among employees in September to November 2021. In real terms (adjusted for inflation), total and regular pay have shown minimal growth in September to November 2021, at 0.4% for total pay and 0.0% for regular pay. Single-month growth in real average weekly earnings for November 2021 fell on the year for the first time since July 2020, at negative 0.9% for total pay and negative 1.0% for regular pay.
Previous months’ strong growth rates were affected upwards by base and compositional effects. These temporary factors have largely worked their way out of the latest growth rates, however, a small amount of base effect for certain sectors may still be present. In July we published a blog: How COVID-19 has impacted the Average Weekly Earnings data, which explains the complexities of interpreting earnings data.Back to table of contents
A guide to labour market data
Summary of labour market datasets providing estimates of employment, unemployment, average weekly earnings and the number of vacancies. Tables are listed alphabetically and by topic.
Summary of labour market statistics
Dataset A01 | Released 18 January 2022
Estimates of employment, unemployment and other employment-related statistics for the UK.
Real Time Information statistics
Dataset Real Time Information statistics | Released 18 January 2022
Earnings and employment statistics from Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) (Experimental Statistics) seasonally adjusted.
Labour Force Survey single month estimates
Dataset X01 | Released 18 January 2022
Labour Force Survey (LFS) experimental single-month estimates of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity.
Labour Force Survey weekly estimates
Dataset X07 | Released 18 January 2022
Labour Force Survey (LFS) experimental weekly estimates of employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and hours in the UK.
View all related data on the related data page.
Alternatively, NOMIS provides free access to the most detailed and up-to-date UK labour market statistics
Average weekly earnings
Average weekly earnings measures money paid by employers to employees in Great Britain before tax and other deductions from pay. The estimates are not just a measure of pay rises because they also reflect, for example, changes in the overall structure of the workforce. More high-paid jobs in the economy would have an upward effect on the earnings growth rate.
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 A guide to labour market statistics.
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.
Vacancies are defined as positions for which employers are actively seeking recruits from outside their business or organisation. The estimates are based on the Vacancy Survey; this is a survey of businesses designed to provide estimates of the stock of vacancies across the economy, excluding agriculture, forestry and fishing (a small sector for which the collection of estimates would not be practical).
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.Back to table of contents
Our bulletins will be shorter and more focused on the main messages and most important trends in response to user feedback. Read more on this and how to send us feedback on how our publications are evolving.
For more information on how labour market data sources are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see the article published on 6 May 2020, which details some of the challenges that we have faced in producing estimates at this time.
An article published 11 December 2020 compares our labour market data sources and discusses some of the main differences.
Our latest data and analysis on the impact of coronavirus on the UK economy and population are available on our dedicated coronavirus web page. This is the hub for all special coronavirus-related publications, drawing on all available data. In response to the developing coronavirus pandemic, we are working to ensure that we continue to publish economic statistics. For more information, please see COVID-19 and the production of statistics.
Labour Force Survey reweighting
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 (COVID-19) pandemic. The reweighting 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 Pay As You Earn (PAYE) RTI the months used were the previous three-month average. For example, for the October to December period, the RTI data used were that 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.
Economic statistics governance after EU exit
Following the UK's exit from the EU, new governance arrangements are being put in place that will support the adoption and implementation of high-quality standards for UK economic statistics. These governance arrangements will promote international comparability and add to the credibility and independence of the UK's statistical system.
At the centre of this new governance framework will be the new National Statistician's Committee for Advice on Standards for Economic Statistics (NSCASE). NSCASE will support the UK by ensuring its processes for
influencing and adopting international statistical standards are world-leading. The advice NSCASE provides to the National Statistician will span the full range of domains in economic statistics, including the national accounts, fiscal statistics, prices, trade and the balance of payments, and labour market statistics.
Further information about NSCASE is available.Back to table of contents
The estimates presented in this bulletin contain uncertainty.
Further information is available in A guide to labour market statistics.
Information on revisions is available in the Labour market statistics revisions policy.
Information on the strengths and limitations of this bulletin is available in our previous release.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
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