The latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for January to March 2022 show that over the quarter there was a decrease in the unemployment rate, while the employment and inactivity rates increased.
The UK employment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter to 75.7% but is still below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels. The increase in the employment rate was driven by the movement of people aged 16 to 64 years from unemployment to employment. However, there was also a record-high movement of people from economic inactivity into employment. Total job-to-job moves also increased to a record high of 994,000, driven by resignations rather than dismissals, during the January to March 2022 period.
The most timely estimate of payrolled employees for April 2022 shows a monthly increase, up 121,000 on the revised March 2022, to a record 29.5 million.
Total actual weekly hours worked increased by 14.8 million hours to 1.04 billion hours in January to March 2022, compared with the previous quarter. However, this is still 10.7 million below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. Average actually weekly hours worked are similar to averages before the coronavirus pandemic, with the average hours worked by part-time workers at a record high (16.8 hours per week). Consequently, the shortfall in total hours is down to the reduced numbers in employment.
The unemployment rate for January to March 2022 decreased by 0.3 percentage points on the quarter to 3.7%. For the first time since records began, there are fewer unemployed people than job vacancies.
The economic inactivity rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 21.4% in January to March 2022. Recent increases in economic inactivity have been driven by those aged 50 to 64 years.
The number of job vacancies in February to April 2022 rose to a new record of 1,295,000. However, the rate of growth in vacancies continued to slow down.
Growth in employees' average total pay (including bonuses) was 7.0% and growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 4.2% in January to March 2022. In real terms (adjusted for inflation), growth in total pay was 1.4% and regular pay fell on the year at negative 1.2%; strong bonus payments have kept recent real total pay growth positive. Previous months' strong growth rates were affected upwards by base and compositional effects. These initial temporary factors have worked their way out. However, we are now comparing the latest period with a period where certain sectors had increasing numbers of employees on furlough because of the winter 2020 to 2021 lockdown. Therefore, a small amount of base effect will be present for these sectors. This will not be to the degree we saw when comparing periods at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.Back to table of contents
Summary of labour market statistics
Dataset A01 | Released 17 May 2022
Estimates of employment, unemployment and other employment-related statistics for the UK.
Real Time Information statistics
Dataset | Released 17 May 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 17 May 2022
Labour Force Survey (LFS) experimental single-month estimates of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity.
A guide to labour market data
Methodology | Released 15 December 2021
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 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.
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 in our methodology, A guide to labour market statistics.Back to table of contents
Our article Comparison of labour market data sources compares data sources and discusses some of the main differences.
For more 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.
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 a 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 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 LFS was applied, there was a small error in the calculation of the growth rates used. 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.
We plan to reweight LFS and Annual Population Survey (APS) datasets that include data from March 2020 using RTI data. We intend to release the initial reweighted LFS estimates in the June Labour Market publication. On 23 May 2022, we plan to publish an article with indicative estimates of the impact and a more detailed reweighting timeline.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consultation on release practices
The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has finalised its consultation on release practices. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has welcomed the findings in a statement on the ONS's response to the OSR's proposals, specifically noting that the release-time exemptions, which were granted during the coronavirus pandemic, are now incorporated into the revised Code of Practice. As such, the monthly Labour Market bulletin will continue to be published at 7am.
Labour market statistics user engagement
Over the last few years, the ONS has been developing a transformed version of the LFS using an online-first multimode collection approach. With recent developments, including the addition of the ability to respond by telephone, the ONS is now in a position to begin moving towards incorporating the transformed LFS data into the regular labour market data releases.
We understand these changes may have an impact on some of our users and we are carrying out a survey, which closes 29 June 2022, to better understand those impacts.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
Telephone: +44 1633 455400