ONS Labour Market Data: October 2023 Quarterly Overview

  • Tuesday, October 24, 2023
  • The latest labour market data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) pointed to further challenges for employees and job seekers.
  • The publication of the October figures was delayed due to questions about the accuracy of Labour Force Survey estimates.
  • As a result, the new figures are based on growth rates from Pay as You Earn Real-Time Information and the Claimant Count.

Earlier this week, 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.

The report was delayed due to concerns over the accuracy of Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates. To address these concerns, the ONS changed its methodology. Instead of using LFS data, the statistics body referred to Pay as You Earn Real-Time Information and the Claimant Count for the periods from May to July 2023 onwards. Their latest overview explained that this approach aims to provide “a more holistic view … while the LFS estimates are uncertain”. The newest figures are therefore described as “experimental estimates”, complicating like-for-like comparisons with previous datasets.

Besides positive pay growth, the data was generally negative, pointing to an increasingly tight labour market.

Quarterly Employment Data

The national employment rate stood at 75.7 percent between June and August 2023 – a 0.3 percent decrease on the previous valid three-month period (March to May 2023). The unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percent to 4.2 percent. The economic inactivity rate, meanwhile, increased by 0.1 percent to 20.9 percent.

Quarterly Job Vacancies

From July to September 2023, the number of job vacancies stood at 988,000 – a reduction of 43,000, or 4.2 percent, on March to May, and the 15th consecutive decline.

Quarterly Wage Growth

During May to July, average total pay growth, which includes bonuses, was 8.1 percent. Average total regular pay growth, which excludes bonuses, was 7.8 percent – the same as the previous period.  

According to the ONS, “[i]n real terms (adjusted for inflation using Consumer Prices Index including owner occupier's housing costs (CPIH)), annual growth for total pay rose on the year by 1.3 percent and for regular pay rose on the year by 1.1 percent.

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