Questions and answers about coronavirus and the UK economy
Questions and answers about coronavirus and the UK economy

Data update: Labour market

What does the latest data release reveal about the state of the UK labour market? While the job market has been fairly stable in recent months, growth in wages saw a big dip. People are also working less, with the number of hours worked down compared with last year.

This morning the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the latest data on the UK labour market. How are employment, unemployment, wages and job vacancies responding to the pandemic?

The charts below provide some answers.

Figure 1

Source: Office for National Statistics

The job market has been fairly stable in recent months, with the UK’s unemployment rate hovering around 4-5% throughout 2021 (see first panel). Employment, at 75.1%, is also broadly stable (see panel below). While both employment and unemployment have changed very little, the growth rate compare to a year ago shows a substantial increase in economic activity. Growth in wages also saw a big dip, followed by some catch up growth (see third panel).

It is not all good news. Despite the rebound, people are working less. The number of hours worked down by 92 million per week, a drop of almost 9% on a year ago. Further, there are fewer new jobs available, with an estimated 607,000 job vacancies in January to March 2021 – 22.7% less than a year ago.

The chart above is the first in our new series of data explainers. We have linked the charts directly to the ONS so that they update automatically as new information becomes available. Over time, we plan to build a dashboard – our data hub – for the UK economy, tracing the recovery across a number of metrics in real-time. As soon as new data becomes available, our website will display it. If there are any measures you’d like to see, or data-driven question you’d like us to find an expert to answer, please get in touch.

Authors: Richard Davies, Dénes Csala, Charlie Meyrick
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