The most recent data show the labour market continuing to recover.
The number of payroll employees showed another monthly increase, up 241,000 to 29.1 million in August 2021, returning to pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (February 2020) levels. All regions except London, Scotland and South East are now above pre-pandemic levels.
Following a period of employment growth and low unemployment, since the start of the pandemic the employment rate has generally decreased, and the unemployment rate has increased. However, since the end of 2020, both have shown signs of recovery. In the latest period (May to July 2021), there was a quarterly increase in the employment rate of 0.5 percentage points, to 75.2%, and a decrease in the unemployment rate of 0.3 percentage points, to 4.6%. The economic inactivity rate is down 0.3 percentage points on the previous quarter, to 21.1%.
Young people (those aged 16 to 24 years) have been particularly affected by the pandemic, with the employment rate decreasing and the unemployment and economic inactivity rates increasing by more than seen for those aged 25 years and over. Over the last quarter, however, there was a strong increase in the employment rate and decrease in the unemployment and inactivity rates for young people.
The number of job vacancies in June to August 2021 was 1,034,000, which is the first time vacancies have risen over 1 million since records began, and is now 249,000 above its pre-pandemic January to March 2020 level. Vacancies grew on the quarter in June to August 2021 by 269,300 (35.2%), with all industry sectors increasing their number of vacancies and the majority reaching record levels; the largest increase was seen in accommodation and food service activities, which rose by 57,600 (75.4%).
Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 8.3% and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 6.8% among employees for the three months May to July 2021. However, annual growth in average employee pay is being affected by temporary factors that have inflated the increase in the headline growth rate: 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.Back to table of contents
Summary of labour market statistics
Dataset A01 | Released 14 September 2021
Estimates of employment, unemployment and other employment-related statistics for the UK.
Real Time Information statistics
Dataset Real Time Information statistics | Released 14 September 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 14 September 2021
Labour Force Survey (LFS) experimental single-month estimates of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity.
Labour Force Survey weekly estimates
Dataset X07 | Released 14 September 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
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.
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.
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 have been reweighted to new populations derived using growth rates from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Real Time Information (RTI), to allow for different trends during the pandemic. The reweighting will give improved estimates of both rates and levels.
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.
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
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