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UK labour market trends – H1 2018

According to the latest figures from Office for National Statistics (ONS), UK employment rates continue to increase (32.29 million people in work) and unemployment is at its lowest since comparable records began (1.42 million people unemployed) for the February-April 2018 period. So it’s a great time for the UK workforce!

In this article we delve deeper into these statistics, to find out how various demographic groups are faring.

Employment overview

There were 32.39 million people in work, 440,000 more (1.38%) than last year. From a gender perspective, 80% of men aged from 16 to 64 years were in work and 71.3% of women aged from 16 to 64 years were in work – the highest employment rate for women since comparable records began in 1971. The increase in the employment rate for women over the last few years has been partly due to ongoing changes to the State Pension age for women, resulting in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.

16.5% of all people in work were employed in the public and the remaining 83.5% worked in the private sector. There were 5.36 million people employed in the public sector, 10,000 more (0.19%) than for December 2017.The private sector employed 27.04 million people, 136,000 more (0.5%) than for December 2017. NHS employees make up 30.6% of the public sector workforce (1.64 million people) and public sector education workers make up 28.2% (1.51 million people).

Young people in the labour market

Young people refers people aged from 16 to 24 years. Of the 32.39 million people in work, 3.87 million were made up of young people including 863,000 full-time students with part-time jobs.

There were 520,000 unemployed people, including 166,000 full-time students looking for part-time work. The unemployment rate for young people was 11.9%, lower than for a year earlier (12.5%). The unemployment rate for young people has been consistently higher than that for older age groups.

Between March 1992 (when comparable records began) and April 2018, the proportion of young people who were in full-time education increased substantially from 26.2% to 43.5%. This increase has reduced the size of the economically active population (those in work plus those seeking and available to work) and therefore directly increased the unemployment rate.

Unemployment

The unemployment rate was 4.2%, down from 4.6% for a year earlier. The unemployment rate for men was 4.3% and for women it was 4.1%, the joint lowest since comparable records began in 1971.

There were:

  • 1.42 million unemployed people, 38,000 fewer than for November 2017 to January 2018 and 115,000 fewer than for a year earlier
  • 767,000 unemployed men, 10,000 more than for November 2017 to January 2018 but 73,000 fewer than a year earlier
  • 649,000 unemployed women, 47,000 fewer than for November 2017 to January 2018 and 41,000 fewer than a year earlier

Looking at unemployment by how long people have been out of work and seeking work, there were:

  • 833,000 people who had been unemployed for up to six months, 63,000 fewer than for a year earlier
  • 214,000 people who had been unemployed for between six months and one year, 35,000 fewer than for a year earlier
  • 369,000 people who had been unemployed for over one year, 17,000 fewer than for a year earlier

Arm yourself with the facts!

To keep on top of the latest trends in the UK labour market, download our ‘Work in Progress – H1 2018’ report which explores permanent and temporary hiring intentions and concerns from employers, the decline in EU nationals coming to work in the UK and the unexpected fall in apprenticeship starts since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April 2017.

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