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ONS Labour Market Overview: June 2024

This update provides a comprehensive overview of the UK labour market based on the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It covers employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, vacancies, earnings, and other key labour market indicators.

As the Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates are based on smaller sample sizes, they can vary more. It’s important to be careful when interpreting quarterly changes. We suggest looking at these estimates together with Workforce Jobs, Claimant Count data, and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) as indicators of the job market.

Employment Trends

  • Payrolled Employees: The number of payrolled employees fell by 36,000 (0.1%) between March and April 2024 but rose by 201,000 (0.7%) between April 2023 and April 2024.
  • May 2024 Estimate: The early estimate of payrolled employees for May 2024 decreased by 3000 (0.0%) on the month but increase by 167,000 (0.6%) on the year to 30.3 million. This provisional estimate is subject to revision as more data becomes available.

Employment, Unemployment, and Economic Inactivity Rates

  • Employment Rate: The employment rate for people aged 16 to 64 was estimated at 74.3% for February to April 2024. This represents a decrease compared to both the previous quarter and the same period last year.
  • Workforce Jobs: The total Workforce Jobs (WFJ) in the UK estimate rose by 431,000 in March 2024, on the year to 37.2 million. This concerned increases in both employee jobs and self-employment jobs.
  • Unemployment Rate: The unemployment rate for those aged 16 and over was estimated at 4.4% in February to April 2024, above estimates of a year ago, and increased in the last quarter.
  • Economic Inactivity Rate: For the 16 to 64 age group, the economic inactivity rate was estimated at 22.3% in February to April 2024, above estimates of a year ago, and increased in the latest quarter.

Claimant Count and Vacancies

  • Claimant Count: The UK Claimant Count for May 2024 saw an increase on the month and on the year, to 1.629 million.
  • Vacancies: The estimated number of vacancies for March to May 2024 fell by 12,000 on the quarter to 904,000. This marks the 23rd consecutive quarterly decline, although the number of vacancies remains above pre-pandemic (COVID-19) levels.

Earnings and Real Wage Growth

  • Earnings Growth: Annual growth in average regular earnings (excluding bonuses) was 6.0% in February to April 2024, while annual growth in total earnings (including bonuses) grew by 5.9%.
  • Real Terms Growth: When adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH), annual growth in regular pay  was 2.3% in February to April 2024, and growth in total pay was 2.2% for the same period.

Labour Disputes

In April 2024, there were an estimated 17,000 working days lost due to labour disputes across the UK.

 

The UK labour market is showing mixed trends. Employment rates have decreased compared to the previous quarter, and economic inactivity rates are higher than they were a year ago. Vacancies are continuing to decline but are still higher than they were before the pandemic. However, the Claimant Count has increased compared to the previous month. It’s important to interpret these indicators cautiously due to the smaller sample sizes in the Labour Force Survey (LFS), but they still provide estimates and analysis of the labour market.

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