Labour market information

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United Kingdom - National Level

Short overview of the labour market


The UK population is 64.5m with around 41m aged between 16 and 64. 

The UK labour market is flexible and dynamic, with over 10 million people moving between unemployment, employment and inactivity each year. Around one in five workers move into a job each year, and a similar proportion leave a job.

The UK employment rate has never been higher at 74.5 per cent. There are a record number of people in employment: 31.4 million. With population growth and migration, this is expected to continue - The Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts employment to rise each year to 32.1 million in 2020.

The greatest population and workforce densities are in London, South East and North West.  The lowest are in the North East and Wales.  London, North East and Scotland have the highest numbers of unemployed people per unfilled jobcentre vacancy.

According to September 2016 figures, there are approximately 776,400 people claiming Unemployment related benefits in the UK.  Many more people are working in part-time employment and have more than one part-time job. Overall in the UK there are just over 8.8m people classed as economically inactive, 21.5% of the 16-64 year old population.

Currently, there are approximately 14% of people in the UK who work in Assistant Professional and Technical occupations, nearly 20% in professional occupations and over 10% in administration and clerical work. Process plant and machinery operators have the lowest workforce at just over 6%.   

A third of the population are skilled to NVQ level 4 and above and about half to NVQ level 3 and above.  Approximately 1 in 10 has no qualifications. 

The median gross weekly pay for full time work is £53870, with the hourly rate at £13.59. On average, women earn around 10% less than men.

Text last edited on: 03/2017

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