Labour market overview, UK - Office for National Statistics (2024)

1. Other pages in this release

  • Average weekly earnings in Great Britain

  • Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, UK

  • Employment in the UK

  • Labour market in the regions of the UK

  • Vacancies and jobs in the UK

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2. Main points

Payrolled employees in the UK fell by 5,000 (0.0%) between February and March 2024, but rose by 288,000 (1.0%) between March 2023 and March 2024.

The early estimate of payrolled employees for April 2024 decreased by 85,000 (0.3%) on the month but increased by 129,000 (0.4%) on the year, to 30.2 million. The April 2024 estimate should be treated as a provisional estimate and is likely to be revised when more data are received next month.

Increased volatility of Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates, resulting from smaller achieved sample sizes, means that estimates of quarterly change should be treated with additional caution, and we recommend using them as part of our suite of labour market indicators, alongside Workforce Jobs, Claimant Count data, and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) estimates.

The UK employment rate (for people aged 16 to 64 years) was estimated at 74.5% in January to March 2024, below estimates of a year ago, and decreased in the latest quarter.

The UK unemployment rate (for people aged 16 years and over) was estimated at 4.3% in January to March 2024, above estimates of a year ago, and increased in the latest quarter.

The UK economic inactivity rate for people aged 16 to 64 years was estimated at 22.1% in January to March 2024, above estimates of a year ago, and increased in the latest quarter.

The UK Claimant Count for April 2024 increased by 8,900 on the month and by 29,300 on the year, to 1.579 million.

In February to April 2024, the estimated number of vacancies in the UK decreased by 26,000 on the quarter to 898,000. Vacancies decreased on the quarter for the 22nd consecutive period but are still above pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels.

Annual growth in employees' average regular earnings (excluding bonuses) in Great Britain was 6.0% in January to March 2024, and annual growth in total earnings (including bonuses) was 5.7%.

Annual growth in real terms (adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH)) for regular pay was 2.0% in January to March 2024, and for total pay was 1.7%.

There were an estimated 22,000 working days lost because of labour disputes across the UK in March 2024.

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This bulletin includes data from business and social surveys, as well as data from administrative sources.

It includes a combination of National Statistics and official statistics in development and, therefore, we advise the consideration of this when using.

Read more inSection 5: GlossaryandSection 6: Measuring the data.

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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 14 May 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 14 May 2024
Earnings and employment statistics from Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI), seasonally adjusted. These are official statistics in development.

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 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 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

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

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.

Claimant Count

The Claimant Count is an official statistic in development that measures the number of people who are receiving a benefit principally for the reason of being unemployed. Currently the Claimant Count consists of those receiving Jobseekers' Allowance, and Universal Credit claimants in the "searching for work" conditionality group.

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 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 statistic 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. We 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.

As stated on 5 February 2024 in our Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators: 2024 article, from 13 February we have reinstated reweighted LFS estimates into our monthly publication. These LFS estimates are official statistics in development.

Reweighting does not address the volatility we have seen in recent periods and which we expect to see to some extent in the future, so we would advise caution when interpreting short-term changes in headline rates and recommend using them as part of our suite of labour market indicators, alongside Workforce Jobs, Claimant Count data and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) estimates.

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.

Coronavirus

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@ons.gov.uk.

Labour market transformation

We have published a Labour market transformation article and a blog 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 labour.market. transformation@ons.gov.uk 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 Labour market overview, UK: April 2021 bulletin.

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

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8. Related links

Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators: 10 May 2024 Bulletin | Released 10 May 2024 Early data on the UK economy and society. These faster indicators are created using rapid response surveys, novel data sources and innovative methods. These are official statistics in development.

Business insights and impact on the UK economy: 2 May 2024 Bulletin | Released 2 May 2024 The impact of challenges facing the economy and other events on UK businesses. Based on responses from the voluntary fortnightly business survey (BICS) to deliver real-time information to help assess issues affecting UK businesses and economy, including financial performance, workforce, trade and business resilience.

Labour market transformation - update on progress and plans: April 2024 Article | Released 29 April 2024 Labour market transformation overview, building on previous engagement on the transformed Labour Force Survey.

Quarterly economic commentary: October to December 2023
Article | Released 28 March 2024
Economic commentary for the latest quarterly national accounts, prices and labour market indicators.

Impact of reweighting on Labour Force Survey key indicators: 2024
Article | Released 5 February 2024
Indicative estimates of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) reweighting methodology on key indicators for the UK and countries of the UK, between July to September 2022 and September to November 2023.

Impact of imputation changes in employment statistics from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information methodology
Methodology | Revised 4 March 2024
An assessment of changes to the way missing data is modelled in monthly estimates of employees from Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) data.

Rising ill-health and economic inactivity because of long-term sickness, UK: 2019 to 2023
Article | Released 26 July 2023
Experimental statistics estimating the different health conditions of the working-age population and those economically inactive because of long-term sickness.

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9. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 14 May 2024, ONS website, statistical bulletin,Labour market overview, UK: May 2024

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Labour market overview, UK - Office for National Statistics (2024)

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