Labour market LIVE
26 January 2021
The ONS figure for claimant unemployed is 2,644,500, and has risen by 7,000 on last month, and up by 1.4 million since March. The claimant rate is 7.4%.

  • The ONS figure for 18-24 claimant unemployed is 515,900 in December, up by 280,800 or 119.5% on March.
  • Vacancies in December fell back by 8,000 to 552,000 after a period of recovering strongly from the low point of 327,000 in May.
  • Unemployment is 1,724,000, up by 33,000 from last month’s published figure (quarterly headline increased by 202,000) and the unemployment rate 5.0%, increased by 0.1 percentage points on last month and has risen by 0.6 percentage points on last quarter.
  • There are 3.1 unemployed people per vacancy.
  • The employment rate is 75.2% and is unchanged on last month’s published figure and reduced by 0.4 percentage points in the preferred quarterly measure.
Our full analysis
The labour market figures published on 26 January suggest that the labour market will continue to weaken.

Duncan Melville, Chief Economist at Learning and Work Institute, commented:
“Weekly Labour Force Survey data indicates that between mid-March 2020 and the end of November 2020, employment fell by close to 200,000 and unemployment rose by 374,000. In historic terms, the employment and unemployment rates remain relatively high and low at 75.2 percent and 5.0 percent respectively. This points to success of government policy, in particular the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in mitigating the labour market impact of the pandemic and keeping people in employment, on reduced or zero hours, and out of ‘open’ unemployment.

"In November, despite the second national lockdown, total hours worked continued to increase albeit at a modest rate. This is surprising, but presumably reflects the fewer restrictions in place compared to the first national lockdown. However, the likelihood is that the labour market probably continued to weaken since November. The number of redundancies peaked in September and declined in October but picked again in November. Vacancy levels fell again in December following a fall in November and the timely Adzuna numbers for total job adverts suggest that this fall continued into January this year. One positive sign was the pick-up in employee payroll numbers which rose by 52,000 in December, the first rise since February.”
Employment fell by 88,000 between June 2020 to August 2020 and September 2020 to November 2020. In the last 12 months employment fell by 398,000.

Unemployment increased by 202,000 between June 2020 to August 2020 and September 2020 and November 2020 and the unemployment rate increased by 0.6 percentage points to 5.0% in the quarter.

Economic inactivity (16-64) fell by 33,000 between June 2020 to August 2020 and September 2020 to November 2020, and the inactivity rate was unchanged at 20.7% in the quarter.

The national claimant count had risen by 7,000 in December.

Chart 1: Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit claimant count
The ONS headline Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit claimant count rose by 7,000 in December, taking the total to 2,644,500. ONS' claimant count before seasonal adjustment has risen by 5,600 to 2,615,200. This change is directly comparable to the local level claimant count changes published today.
Chart 2: UK unemployment (ILO) - the official estimate
The latest unemployment figure is 1,724,000. It has risen by 33,000 from the figure published last month. The unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points to 5.0%.
Chart 3: Unemployment rates by age
The 18 to 24 year old unemployment rate (including students) is 13.2% of the economically active – excluding one million economically inactive students from the calculation. The rate for those aged 25 to 49 is 3.8%. For those aged 50 and over it is 3.8%. The quarterly change is up 0.2 for 18 to 24 year olds, up 0.6 for 25 to 49 year olds, and up 0.7 for the over-50s.

Chart 4: Vacancies – whole economy survey
Headline vacancies rose this month, to 578,000. The ONS' experimental single-month vacancy figures shows a fall of 8,000 between November and December. The headline ONS vacancy figure is both seasonally adjusted and a three-month average. The chart shows both series.
Chart 5: UK employment
Employment fell by 19,000 on the figure published last month, to 32,503,000.
Chart 6: Employment rate in the UK
The employment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points over the quarter, to 75.2%. The employment rate has fallen back to levels last seen in 2017.
Chart 7: Employment rate annual change in regions to September 2020 - November 2020
Compared to last year, two regions still showed a rise in the employment rate, while ten showed a fall. The rises were in Yorkshire and the Humber, and Scotland, and the largest falls were in the South West, North West, and Wales.
Chart 8: Unemployment rate annual change in regions to September 2020 - November 2020
Compared to last year, all regions showed a rise in unemployment. The largest rises were in the East and West Midlands.
Chart 9: Inactivity rate annual change in regions to September 2020 - November 2020
Compared to last year, eight regions showed a rise in the inactivity rate, led by the North West and the South West, while four showed falls, led by London and Yorkshire and the Humber.
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