Making learning and work count

Labour market LIVE from Learning and Work Institute
17 May 2022

  • Unemployment is 1,257,000, down by 40,000 from last month’s published figure (quarterly headline down by 118,000). The unemployment rate 3.7%, down by 0.1 percentage points on last month and down by 0.3 percentage points on last quarter.
  • The ONS figure for claimant unemployed is 1,612,500, down by 56,900 on last month, and the claimant rate is 4.1%.
  • The number of workless young people (not in employment, full-time education or training) is 880,000, down 29,000 on the quarter, representing 12.9% of the youth population (down 0.4 percentage points).
  • Youth unemployment (including students) is 346,000, down by 28,000 on the quarter.
  • Vacancies in February to April 2022 rose to a new record of 1,295,000.
  • There are now 1.0 unemployed people per vacancy. There are now 31,000 more vacancies than ILO unemployed people.
  • The employment rate is 76.0% (up by 0.2 percentage points on last month’s published figure and up by 0.1 percentage points in the preferred quarterly measure).

Learning and Work Institute comment

The labour market figures published on 17 May show that unemployment has fallen, but employment is still 504,000 lower than pre-pandemic due to people leaving the labour market.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute, commented:
‘Real wages excluding bonuses saw their biggest monthly fall in a decade. This cost of living crisis is only going to intensify this year, making it vital that the Government does more to help people, particularly those on the lowest incomes. The obvious way to do this is to raise benefits, including Universal Credit, to match the rise in prices.

Below the surface, the labour market is less buoyant than it appears. For the first time since records began, there are now fewer unemployed people than vacancies and employers are finding it tough to recruit. However, employment remains well below pre-pandemic levels driven by the continuing rise of older people leaving the workforce. Employers and the Government need to act swiftly to encourage people back into the labour market. ’

Paul Bivand, Associate Director, Statistics and Analysis at Learning and Work Institute added:
‘This month, we have extended the charts so they show the last three years rather than the last two. This is so we continue to include pre-pandemic periods. The ultra-experimental weekly figures we have used from the Office for National Statistics have also been withdrawn, so we are showing the still experimental monthly ones as well as the official quarterly averages.

The monthly figures are suggesting an improvement in all three of employment, unemployment and inactivity in March, but continuing to leave employment below the pre-pandemic level and inactivity above it. ’

Employment is up by 83,000 between October to December 2021 and January to March 2022. In the last 12 months employment is up by 388,000.

Unemployment fell by 118,000 between October to December 2021 and January to March 2022. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.4 percentage points to 3.7% in the quarter.

Economic inactivity increased by 65,000 between October to December 2021 and January to March 2022. The inactivity rate rose by 0.2 percentage points to 21.4% in the quarter.

The national claimant count is down by 56,900.

Youth unemployment is down by 28,000. There are 438,000 unemployed young people, and 279,000 (4.1% of the youth population) who are unemployed and not in full-time education.

Self-employment has fallen by 52,000 this year. The number of employees rose by 413,000 over the year. Involuntary part-time employment fell by 14,000 this quarter to 0.9 million, 11.1% of all part-time workers.

Chart 1: UK unemployment (ILO)

The latest unemployment rate has fallen by 0.1 percentage points to 3.7%. chart 1
Chart 2: The claimant count and UK unemployment compared

The number of unemployed people who are claiming unemployment-related benefits is now 355,700 higher than the number of unemployed in the official measure. chart 2
Chart 3: Youth unemployment

The number of unemployed young people has fallen by 29,000 since last month’s figures, to 438,000.

Meanwhile, the number of young Universal Credit or Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants has fallen by last month by 12,100, to 252,700. chart 7
Chart 4: Young people not in employment, full-time education or training

The number of out of work young people who are not in full-time education (880,000) reduced by 28,000 in the last quarter, or 3.1%. Two-thirds (68%) of young people not in full-time education or employment are economically inactive, rather than unemployed. To be counted as unemployed, people need to be both actively seeking work and available to start. People out of work who do not meet these criteria are counted as economically inactive. chart 6
Chart 5: Youth long-term unemployment (six months and over, 16-24)

Youth long-term unemployment (which can include students) has fallen by 34,000 over the last quarter and is now 116,000. Long-term unemployment for young people is normally counted as being unemployed for six months or more. Youth long-term unemployment is now the lowest on record.

chart 3
Chart 6: Adult long-term unemployment (12 months and over, 25+)

Adult long-term unemployment on the survey measure is now 289,000. There are 51,000 more people aged 25 and over out of work for 12 months or more than before the pandemic (Dec 19-Feb 20), though this is now falling (either due to people finding work or moving into economic inactivity).

chart 4
Chart 7: Unemployment rates by age

The 18 to 24 year old unemployment rate (including students) is 9.1% of the economically active – excluding one million economically inactive students from the calculation. The rate for those aged 25 to 49 is 2.9%. For those aged 50 and over it is 2.6%. The quarterly change is 1.0 percentage points down for 18 to 24 year olds, 0.2 points down for 25 to 49 year olds, and 0.4 points down for the over-50s. chart 5
Chart 8: Unemployment rate changes by age (counting February 2020 as 100)

The 18 to 24 year old unemployment rate (including students) is 1.4 percentage points lower than in February 2020. The change is up 0.2 points for those aged 25 to 34. The change is zero for those aged 35 to 49. The change is down 0.3 points for those aged 50 to 64. The change is down 0.5 points for those aged over 65. 

chart 5

Chart 9: Vacancies – whole economy survey

Headline vacancies this month increased by 7,000 to 1,295,000. The ONS' experimental single-month vacancy figures rose by 116,000 In the last quarter. The headline ONS vacancy figure is both seasonally adjusted and a three-month average. The chart shows both series. chart 13
Chart 10: Experimental single month vacancies – whole economy survey

The Office for National Statistics experimental single month vacancy estimates include sectoral information. As these are not seasonally adjusted, it is better to look at annual changes. The numbers are thousands of vacancies, under each number, and on the right, the annual change in thousands of vacancies. chart 13
Chart 11: Unemployed people per vacancy

There are 1.0 unemployed people per vacancy. There are 31,000 more vacancies than the total of ILO unemployed (defined as both seeking work and available to start). chart 14
Chart 12: Online vacancies to early May 2022 from Adzuna

The online vacancies figures published on Thursday, May 12, 2022, covering the period up to Friday, May 6, 2022 are the week after the early May bank holiday. Overall online vacancies are 137% of Feb 2020. They are 7% down on their maximum. Compared with the same week in 2018, the overall vacancy level is up 10%. chart 14
Chart 13: UK employment

Employment increased by 83,000 on the figure published last month, to 32,569,000. The chart shows both the official figures and the experimental monthly figures. The trend is likely to be upwards. chart 15
Chart 14: Employment rate in the UK

The employment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points over the quarter, to 75.7%. The chart shows both the official figures and the experimental monthly figures. The trend is likely to be upwards. chart 16
Chart 15: Economic inactivity – the long-term sick or disabled

The number of people who are economically inactive (that is, not working and not currently looking for work) who are long-term sick or disabled has risen 8.6% in the last nine months to more than 2.3 million working age people. chart 17
Chart 16: Economic inactivity – people looking after family

The survey figures showing those looking after family and not doing paid work or looking for paid work had been trending downwards but have been rising steadily since early 2021. chart 18
Chart 17: Economic inactivity – other inactive

In the Coronavirus period, people who were not working or looking for work due to Covid are included in this group. The number in this category increased sharply at the time, and has continued at a high level. A very high proportion of this group want to work. chart 18
Chart 18: Employment rate two-year change in regions – January to March 2022

Four regions showed a rise in the employment rate, compared with two years ago: the West Midlands, Scotland, London and Northern Ireland. The employment rate fell in eight regions, led by Wales and the North West. chart 19
Chart 19: Unemployment rate two-year change in regions – January to March 2022

Five regions which showed a rise in the unemployment rate, compared to two years ago, led by the North West and the South West. The unemployment rate fell in seven regions, led by the East Midlands and Wales. chart 20
Chart 20: Inactivity rate two-year change in regions – January to March 2022

Eight regions showed a rise in the inactivity rate, compared with two years ago, led by Wales and Yorkshire and the Humber. The inactivity rate fell in four regions, led by the West Midlands and London. chart 21

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