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July 2019

The labour market figures published on 16 July indicate a tight labour market but one that is clearly slowing down.

View analysis for July 2019.

  • Unemployment is 1,292,000, down by 12,000 from last month’s published figure (quarterly headline also down by 51,000) and the unemployment rate was 3.8%, no change on last month and down by 0.1 percentage points on last quarter.
  • The ONS figure for claimant unemployed is 1,142,100, up by 38,000 on last month, and the claimant rate is 3.2%.
  • The number of workless young people (not in employment, full-time education or training) is 949,000, has risen by 33,000 on the quarter, representing 13.7% of the youth population (up by 0.5 percentage points).
  • Youth unemployment (including students) is 493,000, no change on the quarter.
  • There are 1.5 unemployed people per vacancy.
  • The employment rate is 76.0% (down by 0.1 percentage points on last month’s published figure and also down by 0.1 percentage points in the preferred quarterly measure


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

There’s a sense of deja vu in today’s numbers, just as in June, they show in the three months from March to May 2019, a modest rise in employment, a small decline in unemployment, and a rise in economic inactivity as workers leave the labour market. Worryingly, this quarterly rise in economic inactivity has increased from 32,000 for February to April 2019 to 83,000 for March to May 2019. This supports our contention that the labour market continues to slow down and lose momentum. The continuing fall in vacancy levels in the April to June quarter, which have now been falling for five consecutive months, also point to a slowing labour market.

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

In this briefing, we have dropped most of the analysis of Jobseeker’s Allowance as new claims for JSA are now only for 'new-style' contribution-related benefit. This makes comparisons difficult. We have so far kept in the briefing figures for long-term JSA unemployed as the Universal Credit figures do not yet cover durations within each work conditionality group. These figures remain useful for over-25s, but are less so for under 25s.

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Chart 12: Employment rate in the UK

The employment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points over the quarter, to 76.0%.

Chart 9: Vacancies – whole economy survey

Vacancies (in the Office for National Statistics survey of the whole economy) fell again this month, to 827,000. As the number of vacancies is quite volatile, and frequently revised, the Office for National Statistics uses a three-month average.

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 (949,000) has risen in the past quarter by 33,000, or 3.6%. The rise was largely among the inactive, with the number of unemployed young people not in full-time education or training also rising, but at a lower rate.

Chart 15: Employment rate quarterly change in regions – March to May 2019

One bright spot in today’s numbers is the position of Northern Ireland. The employment rate in Northern Ireland has reached a record high of 71.7% and has increased strongly in the last year by 1.7 percentage points, inactivity has fallen substantially in the last year, and the unemployment rate is just 3.2%.