Labour market overview, UK: January 2024

Estimates of employment, unemployment, economic inactivity and other employment-related statistics for the UK.

This is not the latest release. View latest release

5 February 2024

From 13 February, we will be reinstating reweighted Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates, incorporating our latest estimates of the size and composition of the UK population. These will replace the experimental estimates we have been publishing since October 2023.

Our Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators: 2024 article, with accompanying dataset, published 5 February 2024, shows the indicative impacts of this reweighting, from the period July to September 2022 onwards, for the headline levels and rates of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity.

Email Debra Leaker

Release date:
16 January 2024

Next release:
13 February 2024

2. Main points

In October to December 2023, the estimated number of vacancies in the UK fell by 49,000 on the quarter to 934,000. Vacancies fell on the quarter for the 18th consecutive period, the longest consecutive run of quarterly falls ever recorded but still above pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels.

Annual growth in regular earnings (excluding bonuses) in Great Britain was 6.6% in September to November 2023, and annual growth in employees' average total earnings (including bonuses) was 6.5% in September to November 2023. Annual growth in real terms (adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH)) for total pay rose on the year by 1.3% in September to November 2023, and for regular pay rose on the year by 1.4%.

In November 2023, there were 69,000 working days lost because of labour disputes across the UK, the lowest number of working days lost since May 2022. Over half of the labour disputes in November 2023 were in the transport, storage, information and communication industries.

The estimate of payrolled employees in the UK for December 2023 decreased by 24,000 on the revised November 2023 figure to 30.2 million. The December 2023 estimate should be treated as a provisional estimate and is likely to be revised when more data are received next month.

Because of the increased uncertainty around the Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates, we are publishing an alternative series of estimates of UK employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity in our Using administrative data to create headline labour market figures article. These figures were derived using growth rates from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information (excluding the early flash estimate) and the Claimant Count for the periods from May to July 2023 onwards. Our Statement on the Labour Force Survey published on 12 January 2024 stated that we will publish a methods article in the coming weeks explaining the improvements that are being made to the LFS, as well as the impacts of these improvements on headline estimates, ahead of the reintroduction of a fuller LFS-based dataset in the February 2024 publication.

These alternative estimates for September to November 2023 show that:

  • the UK employment rate (for those aged 16 to 64 years) increased by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter to 75.8%
  • the UK unemployment rate (for those aged 16 years and over) was largely unchanged on the quarter at 4.2%
  • the UK economic inactivity rate (for those aged 16 to 64 years) decreased by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter to 20.8%
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3. Latest indicators at a glance

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4. Labour market data

Summary of labour market statistics
Dataset A01 | Released 16 January 2024
Labour market statistics summary data table, including earnings, employment, unemployment, redundancies and vacancies, Great Britain and UK, published monthly.

Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, seasonally adjusted
Dataset | Released 16 January 2024
Earnings and employment statistics from Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) (official statistics in development), seasonally adjusted.

Adjusted employment, unemployment and economic inactivity
Dataset X10 | Released 16 January 2024
Experimental labour market estimates using administrative data to produce adjusted UK employment, unemployment and economic inactivity measures, seasonally adjusted. Includes a breakdown by countries and regions of the UK.

A guide to labour market data
Methodology | Updated 21 April 2023
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.

View all related data on our related data page.

Alternatively, Nomis provides free access to the most detailed and up-to-date UK labour market statistics.

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5. Glossary

Average weekly earnings

Average weekly earnings, detailed in our Guide to labour market statistics methodology, measure 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.

Economic inactivity

People not in the labour force (also known as economically inactive in our Guide to labour market statistics methodology) 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 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. See our Guide to labour market statistics methodology for a more detailed explanation.


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 (people in work and those seeking and available to work) who are unemployed. See our Guide to labour market statistics methodology for more information.


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). For more information, see our Guide to labour market statistics methodology.

Pay As You Earn Real Time Information

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 PAYE RTI statistics are official statistics in development (previously called experimental statistics) as the methodologies used to produce the statistics are still in their development phase.

In June 2023, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) published an assessment report of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Office for National Statistics (ONS) statistics on earnings and employment from Pay as You Earn Real Time Information (PAYE RTI). HMRC and the ONS welcome OSR’s assessment report and have developed an action plan focusing on the six requirements.

A more detailed glossary is available in our Guide to labour market statistics methodology.

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6. Measuring the data

We have been facing the challenge of falling response rates for household surveys, as have other comparable countries. This issue became more acute in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) data collected for August 2023. The LFS estimates due to be published in October 2023 were suspended because of quality concerns.

Therefore, we have developed a comprehensive plan to address these concerns and reintroduce LFS, as described in our Labour Force Survey: planned improvements and its reintroduction estimates methodology. The plan covers both data collection and methodological improvements. Our statement on the Labour Force Survey was published on 12 January 2024, detailing the plan for an article in coming weeks and the February 2024 labour market publication.

Further information on response rates and other quality-related issues for the LFS can be found in our quarterly Labour Force Survey performance and quality monitoring reports.

Our Comparison of labour market data sources methodology compares data sources and discusses some of the main differences.


For more information on how labour market data sources were affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see our Coronavirus and the effects on UK labour market statistics article.

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 us at

Labour market transformation

We have published a Labour market transformation article providing an update on the transformation of labour market statistics.

We welcome your feedback on this latest update and our plans. Please email us at to tell us what you think.

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7. Strengths and limitations

The estimates presented in this bulletin contain uncertainty. For more information, see our Uncertainty and how we measure it methodology.

Information on revisions is available in our Labour market statistics revisions policy.

Information on the strengths and limitations of this bulletin is available in our previous bulletin, Labour market overview, UK: April 2021.

Further information is available in our Guide to labour market statistics methodology.

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9. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 16 January 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Labour market overview, UK: January 2024

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Debra Leaker
Telephone: +44 1633 455400