The latest figures suggest that the jobs market is showing signs of recovery.
The number of payrolled employees has increased for the sixth consecutive month, up by 197,000 in May 2021 to 28.5 million. It is however 553,000 below levels seen before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Since February 2020, the largest falls in payrolled employment have been in the accommodation and food services sector, people aged under 25 years, and people living in London.
These three groups have also seen the largest monthly increases but are still well below pre-pandemic levels.
Following a period of employment growth and low unemployment since the start of the pandemic, employment had generally been decreasing and unemployment increasing. However, the latest estimates (February to April 2021) continue to show signs of recovery. There was a quarterly increase in the employment rate of 0.2 percentage points to 75.2% and a quarterly decrease in the unemployment rate of 0.3 percentage points to 4.7%. The economic inactivity rate was largely unchanged on the previous quarter at 21.0%.
With the relaxation of many coronavirus restrictions, total hours worked increased on the quarter, however it is still below pre-pandemic levels. The redundancy rate decreased on the quarter and is now similar to pre-pandemic levels.
The number of job vacancies in March to May 2021 was 758,000, only 27,000 below the level before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in January to March 2020; most industries have recovered to show vacancies above pre-pandemic levels. The strongest quarterly increase was in accommodation and food services. In May 2021, the experimental monthly vacancies data, and the experimental Adzuna online vacancies data both surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
Annual growth in average employee pay has continued to increase, however this is driven by compositional effects of a fall in the number and proportion of lower-paid employee jobs and because the latest month is now compared with April 2020 when earnings were first affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (the base effect). Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) and regular pay (excluding bonuses) among employees was 5.6% for the three months February to April 2021.Back to table of contents
Summary of labour market statistics
Dataset A01 | Released 15 June 2021
Estimates of employment, unemployment and other employment-related statistics for the UK.
Real Time Information statistics
Dataset Real Time Information statistics | Released 15 June 2021
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 15 June 2021
Labour Force Survey (LFS) experimental single-month estimates of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity.
Labour Force Survey weekly estimates
Dataset X07 | Released 15 June 2021
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 from official sources.
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 as 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.
A more detailed glossary is available.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.
Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) publishing review
The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is undertaking a review into whether the 9:30am release time stated in the Code of Practice for Statistics meets the needs of users. During the pandemic, exemptions were granted to allow the release of market sensitive statistics at 7:00am. The OSR welcomes views about the release time of official statistics by Friday 25 June 2021. Please send comments to: email@example.com.
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.
Labour Force Survey (LFS) responses are weighted to official 2018-based population projections on demographic trends that pre-date the coronavirus pandemic. In our Coronavirus and the impact on payroll employment article, we analyse the population totals used in the LFS weighting process and state our intention to make adjustments. Rates published from the LFS remain robust, however, levels and changes in levels should be used with caution. This will particularly affect estimates for country of birth, nationality, ethnicity, and disability. Consequently, recent level estimates for these measures have been temporarily suspended until they are reweighted to better account for recent population movements.
An article published on 17 May 2021 describes the new LFS weighting methodology, which will be applied to results from July 2021.
Our latest data and analysis on the impact of the 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 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.
More information on measuring the data is available in our previous release.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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