Labour market overview, UK: November 2021

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

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Contact:
Email Debra Leaker

Release date:
16 November 2021

Next release:
14 December 2021

2. Main points

Our most timely estimate of payrolled employees indicate that in October 2021 there were 29.3 million employees, up 160,000 on the revised September 2021. It is possible that those made redundant at the end of the furlough scheme will be included in the RTI data for a few further months, while they work out their notice period. However, responses to our business survey suggest that the numbers made redundant was likely to be a small share of those still on furlough at the end of September 2021.

Our latest Labour Force Survey estimates for July to September 2021 show the employment rate increased 0.4 percentage points on the quarter, to 75.4%. The quarterly increase in employment was driven by a record high net flow from unemployment to employment. Total job-to-job moves also increased to a record high, largely driven by resignations rather than dismissals, during the July to September 2021 period. The rise is also driven by an increase in part-time work and an increase in the number of people on zero-hour contracts, driven by young people.

The unemployment rate decreased 0.5 percentage points on the quarter to 4.3% while the inactivity rate remained unchanged at 21.1%.

The number of job vacancies in August to October 2021 continued to rise to a new record of 1,172,000, an increase of 388,000 from the pre-coronavirus pandemic January to March 2020 level, with 15 of the 18 industry sectors showing record highs. Both single month vacancies and Adzuna's online job advert estimates reached record levels of vacancy numbers in October 2021.

In July to September 2021, annual growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 5.8% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 4.9%. Annual growth in average employee pay has been affected by temporary factors that have inflated the headline growth rate. These factors are now reducing and having a smaller impact on growth rates: factors being base effects where the latest months are now compared with low base periods when earnings were first affected by the coronavirus pandemic; and compositional effects where there has been a fall in the number and proportion of lower-paid employee jobs, therefore increasing average earnings.

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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 November 2021
Estimates of employment, unemployment and other employment-related statistics for the UK.

Real Time Information statistics
Dataset Real Time Information statistics | Released 16 November 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 16 November 2021
Labour Force Survey (LFS) experimental single-month estimates of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity.

Labour Force Survey weekly estimates
Dataset X07 | Released 16 November 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

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5. Glossary

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.

Economic inactivity

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

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

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

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.

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6. Measuring the data

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.

Coronavirus

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 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.

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: regulation@statistics.gov.uk

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7. Strengths and limitations

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.

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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Debra Leaker
labour.market@ons.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 1633 455400