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November 2018

The labour market figures published on 13 November confirm our judgement that the labour market is slowing but contain some welcome news on inactivity. However, claimant unemployment is on course to hit one million by January 2019, two months earlier than we estimated last month.

View analysis for November 2018.

  • Unemployment is 1,381,000, up by 18,000 from last month’s published figure (quarterly headline increased by 21,000) and the unemployment rate 4.1%, rose by 0.1 percentage points on last month and also is up by 0.1 percentage points on last quarter.
  • The ONS figure for claimant unemployed is 967,700, increased by 20,200 on last month, and the claimant rate is 2.7%.
  • The number of workless young people (not in employment, full-time education or training) is 951,000, and it fell by 31,000 on the quarter, representing 13.6% of the youth population (down by 0.4 percentage points).
  • Youth unemployment (including students) is 476,000, down by 16,000 on the quarter.
  • There are 1.6 unemployed people per vacancy. Learning and Work Institute estimates this figure may rise next month.
  • The employment rate is 75.5% and was stable on last month’s published figure and down 0.1 percentage points in the preferred quarterly measure.

Duncan Melville, chief economist at Learning and Work Institute, commented:

Unfortunately, as we have been anticipating for several months, the slowdown in the UK has finally shown up in an increase in unemployment in today’s figures - up by 21,000 in the quarter to July to September 2018. The claimant measure of unemployment increased by 20,000 in the month to October 2018 and, extrapolating the rate of increase seen in the last year, is on course to hit one million, by January 2019 - an unwelcome opening to the New Year.

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Paul Bivand,  associate director for statistics and analysis at Learning and Work Institute's said:

The claimant count of unemployed benefit claimants rose sharply again this month, while survey unemployment rose more slowly. The rise in the claimant count towards the 1 million figure is clearly associated with the rollout of Universal Credit. The Department for Work and Pensions argues the rise is due to a step-change as Universal Credit counts more people as required to look for work. The Department's response has been to propose a supplementary measure lifting the historic claimant count to what it would have been under a "Universal Credit world". This is planned to be published from January 2019.

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Chart 1: UK unemployment (ILO)

The latest unemployment figure is 1,381,000. It has risen by 18,000 from the figure published last month. On the basis of later claimant count figures, Learning and Work Institute estimates that unemployment may rise, although this remains highly uncertain. The unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points to 4.1%.

Chart 8: Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit claimant count

The ONS headline Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit claimant count increased by 20,200 in October, taking the total to 967,735. ONS' claimant count before seasonal adjustment increased by 15,000 to 948,800. This unadjusted national change is directly comparable to the local level claimant count changes published today.

Learning and Work Institute's seasonally adjusted estimate increased by 20,700 to 971,000.

Chart 16: Employment rate in the UK

The employment rate fell 0.1 percentage points over the quarter, to 75.5%.

Chart 17: Claimants for inactive benefits and the economically inactive – inactivity benefits

The number of people inactive owing to long-term sickness fell, while the benefit figure continued to fall.

This chart shows claimants of Employment and Support Allowance, and Universal Credit due to incapacity (the orange dots), compared with survey figures for the economically inactive owing to long-term sickness.