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For more timely data on the emerging effect of coronavirus on the labour market, see Library briefing Coronavirus: Impact on the labour market.

This paper provides figures for the number of people claiming unemployment related benefits by parliamentary constituency, as well as a summary of the latest labour market statistics for the UK as a whole.

The employment rate has been decreasing since the start of the pandemic, and the unemployment rate and redundancies have started to increase.

The number of employees on payrolls stayed at a similar level in September 2020, while total hours worked, and vacancies showed some signs of recovery. Annual growth in employee pay also strengthened, as employees continued to return to work from furlough.

The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits reached 2.7 million in September, an increase of 1.5 million since lockdown began in March.

Library briefing paper Coronavirus: Impact on the labour market explains why the claimant count has risen so sharply while the unemployment rate has been slower to increase.

Key figures

  • In June-August 2020, the number of people aged 16+ in employment was 32.59 million, 153,000 fewer than the previous quarter and 102,000 fewer than the previous year. The employment rate was 75.6%, 0.3 percentage points down on the previous quarter.
  • The UK unemployment rate was 4.5%, 0.4 percentage points up on the previous quarter. Unemployment levels rose by 138,000 on the quarter to 1.52 million.
  • 8.63 million people aged 16-64 were economically inactive, about the same as the previous quarter. The inactivity rate was 20.8%, unchanged on the quarter.
  • The total number of weekly hours worked in the three months to August 2020 was 891.0 million, an increase of 20.0 million (2.3%) on the quarter. Before the pandemic, in December-February 2020, the figure was 1,052.2.
  • Redundancies increased by 114,000 on the quarter to 227,000, the largest quarterly increase since 2009 and highest level since 2009.
  • There were 488,000 job vacancies in July-September 2020, 144,000 more than the record low of the previous quarter but 332,000 (40.5%) fewer than the year before.
  • Early indicators for September 2020 suggest that there were 28.3 million employees in the UK on payrolls, about the same as the previous month and 673,000 fewer than in March 2020.
  • Average wages fell in real terms in the three months to August 2020, with an annual change of -0.8% including bonuses and 0.1% excluding bonuses.
  • The claimant count increased by 1.0% between August and September 2020 to 2.7 million; Since March 2020, when the lockdown began, the claimant count has increased by 1.5 million, or 120%.

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