The latest labour market figures published on 21 April indicate that the UK labour market was in a robust state as it headed into the coronavirus pandemic. However, the current situation will be dramatically different as will be the likely future state of the labour market.
- Unemployment was 1,364,000, and was up by 21,000 from last month’s published figure (quarterly headline increased by 58,000) and the unemployment rate 4%, has risen by 0.1 percentage points on last month and rose by 0.2 percentage points on last quarter.
- The ONS figure for claimant unemployed was 1,246,850, up by 12,100 on last month, and the claimant rate was 3.5%.
- The number of workless young people (not in employment, full-time education or training) was 1,001,000, and has risen by 20,000 on the quarter, representing 14.5% of the youth population (increased by 0.3 percentage points).
- Youth unemployment (including students) was 513,000, and rose by 32,000 on the quarter.
- There are 1.7 unemployed people per vacancy.
- The employment rate was 76.6% and was up by 0.1 percentage points on last month’s published figure and was up by 0.2 percentage points in the preferred quarterly measure.
Duncan Melville, chief economist at Learning and Work Institute, commented:
The numbers for employment, unemployment and economic inactivity released today all relate to the three months, December 2019 to February 2020, prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the associated ‘lockdown’ measures put in place by the Government. These numbers show a large rise in employment. This was combined with a rise in unemployment with economic inactivity falling very substantially as the robust state of the labour market encouraged individuals to enter the labour market and find work.
The current state of the labour market will be very different. Our own research suggests that around five years of employment growth were wiped out in the first month of the crisis, and that the unemployment rate had reached 6% by the end of March compared to the 4% reported today by the ONS.
Paul Bivand, associate director for statistics and analysis at Learning and Work Institute's said:
All these figures, including the March claimant count data, relate to the period before the shutdown. The claimant count is up to 12 March. The vacancy figures do include returns for the whole of March, so are beginning to show some effect. Users should note for the future that workers who are on furlough will be counted as in employment, on the same basis as those on maternity and paternity leave, as they have a job that they are not currently doing work in.
Chart 1: UK unemployment (ILO)
The latest unemployment figure was 1,364,000. It has risen by 21,000 from the figure published last month. The unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points to 4%.
Chart 6: 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 (1,001,000) has risen in the past quarter by 20,000, or 2.1%. The rise was both among the inactive and the unemployed, being slightly faster for the unemployed.
Chart 8: Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit claimant count
The ONS headline Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit claimant count has risen by 12,100 to 12 March, taking the total to 1,246,850. ONS's claimant count before seasonal adjustment rose by 20,020 to 1,277,300. This change was directly comparable to the local level claimant count changes published today.