Documents to download

These figures were updated at 9.30 12 November 2019 on the ONS website. The figures below were published in October.

In the latest quarter, there was a fall in the employment rate and an increase in the unemployment rate. Despite this, the employment rate remains at a historically high level, while the unemployment rate remains at a historically low level. Average pay continued to grow faster than prices.

Key figures

  • The UK unemployment rate was 3.9% in June-August 2019. The ILO measure of unemployment was 1.31 million people, 22,000 more than the previous quarter but 49,000 fewer than the year before.
  • The number of people in employment was 32.69 million, 56,000 fewer than the previous quarter but 282,000 more than the year before. The employment rate was 75.9%, up from 75.6% from the year before.
  • 8.68 million people aged 16-64 were economically inactive, 57,000 more than the previous quarter but 63,000 fewer than the year before. The inactivity rate was 21.0%.
  • Average weekly pay including bonuses for employees in Great Britain increased by 3.8% in the three months to August 2019 compared with the previous year. Pay excluding bonuses also increased by 3.8%.
  • CPI inflation averaged 1.9% over this period, meaning that average earnings both including and excluding bonuses grew faster than prices. 

Effect of Universal Credit

The claimant count figures provided in this paper are affected by the ongoing rollout of Universal Credit.  The claimant count comprises people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, or people claiming Universal Credit who are required to seek work. Under Universal Credit, a broader span of claimants are required to look for work than under Jobseeker’s Allowance. This has the effect of increasing the number of unemployed claimants. So changes in claimant numbers may be a consequence of the Universal Credit rollout rather than changes in economic conditions.

The effect is most visible in areas operating Universal Credit “Full Service”, where rollout of Universal Credit is more advanced: in these areas, there tends to have been a sharp increase in the claimant count over the past year.

In order to adjust for this effect, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published for the first time on 22 January 2019 an ‘alternative’ claimant count series. The alternative series modelled what the count would have been from 2013 onwards had Universal Credit been operating fully, to capture the ‘broader span’ of claimants covered by Universal Credit. So as well as counting people who were indeed claiming unemployment benefits, it includes people who may not have been claiming at the time but who would have been required to look for work had Universal Credit been in place.

Documents to download

Related posts