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ONS Labour Market Overview: December 2023

We have compiled a summary of the significant findings from the latest ONS report for December. This report provides crucial estimates and statistics related to employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, and other important indicators for the UK. Through this, we can gain valuable insights into the current state of the labour market.

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Job Vacancies

From September to November 2023, there was a fall in vacancies in the quarter for the 17th consecutive period. This marks the longest consecutive run of quarterly falls ever recorded but still above pre-coronavirus pandemic levels. The estimated number of vacancies fell by 45,000 in the quarter to 949,000.

Labour Disputes

131,000 working days were lost due to labour disputes in the month of October. Three-fifths of labour disputes were in the health and social work sector. 49,000 workers were involved in labour disputes in October 2023, the lowest number since June 2022.

Payroll

The UK payrolled employee growth for October 2023 compared with September 2023 has been revised from an increase of 33,000 reported in last month’s update to an increase of 39,000.

In November 2023, the estimated number of payrolled employees was largely unchanged compared with the revised October 2023 figure, down 13,000 to 30.2 million. This estimate should be treated as provisional and will likely be revised when more data is received in the following month.

Annual Growth

Annual Growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) in Great Britain was 7.3% in August to October 2023. This growth continues to remain strong but is not as high as recent periods.

The annual growth in employees’ average total pay (including bonuses) was 7.2%. Annual average regular earnings growth for the public sector was 6.9% in August to October 2023 and is among the highest rates since comparable records began in 2001. Annual average regular earnings growth for the private sector was 7.3%.

In real terms (taking into account inflation using CPI, including owner occupier’s housing costs), annual growth for total pay rose by 1.3% and regular pay rose on the year by 1.4%.

Number of Jobs

In September 2023, the estimated number of workforce jobs in the UK, including both employee jobs and self-employment jobs, was a record 36.8 million, an increase of 210,000 from June 2023. The estimated number of employee jobs has been on a largely upward trend since September 2020, resulting in a record high of 32.5 million in September.

 

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Due to the increased uncertainty around the Labour Force Survey estimates, we can only provide an alternative series of estimates of UK employment, unemployment and economic activity. These figures were derived using growth rates from PAYE real-time information and the Claimant Count from May to July 2023 onwards, providing a more holistic view of the state of the labour market while the Labour Force Survey estimates are uncertain.

Employment/Unemployment Rates

From alternative estimates for August to October 2023, the UK employment rate was largely unchanged on the quarter at 4.2%. The UK unemployment rate was also largely unchanged on the quarter at 4.2%.

Economic Inactivity

Alternative estimates for August to October 2023 saw the UK economic inactivity rate largely unchanged on the quarter to 20.9%.

 

In conclusion, the Office for National Statistics’ December report provides insights into the UK’s economy and labour market. Key findings include employment and unemployment percentages remaining unchanged, with job vacancies continuing to decline. Economic inactivity was largely unchanged whilst workers involved in labour disputes dropped to its lowest number since June 2022. Payroll numbers were largely unchanged compared to the revised previous figure. Both annual growth for total pay and regular pay rose on the year.

Source: Labour market overview, UK – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

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