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ONS Labour Market Data: March’s Quarterly Overview

  • Tuesday, March 12, 2024
  • The latest labour market data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) painted a mixed picture for employees and job seekers.
  • While unemployment increased, vacancies continued to drop, and economic activity stayed at peak levels, the number of people in employment rose.  
  • The Growth Company (GC) offers a range of services to help individuals into sustained employment and make sure employers can find the right candidates in a competitive market.

Today, the ONS published its latest quarterly overview of the UK labour market. The report included estimates of employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, wage growth, and other employment-related statistics.

Data from the Labour Force Survey showed near-record levels of economic inactivity, largely driven by long-term sickness, a slight uptick in the unemployment rate, and another fall in vacancies, which nonetheless remained well above pre-pandemic levels.  

Quarterly Employment Data

The national employment rate stood at 75.0 percent between November 2023 and January 2023 – the same as the previous valid three-month period (October to December 2023). More men (78.2 percent) than women (71.9 percent) were employed.

The unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percent to 3.9 percent. Meanwhile, the economic inactivity rate stayed high at 21.8 percent. The main reasons given for such inactivity were illness, family care commitments, and early retirement.

Quarterly Job Vacancies

From December 2023 to February 2024, the number of job vacancies stood at 908,000 – a reduction of 43,000, or 4.5 percent, on October to January, and the 20th consecutive decline.

However, there are still approximately 100,000 more vacancies than the pre-pandemic period.

Quarterly Wage Growth

During November 2023 to January 2024, average total pay growth, which includes bonuses, was 5.6 percent. Average total regular pay growth, which excludes bonuses, was 6.1 percent – a drop on the previous period.  

According to the ONS, “[i]n real terms (adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers' housing costs (CPIH)) for total pay rose on the year by 1.4 percent in November 2023 to January 2024, and for regular pay rose on the year by 1.8 percent.”

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