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For further analysis of 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.

In August to October 2020, redundancies increased by an annual and quarterly record to reach the highest level since comparable records began in 1995. The number of employees on payrolls fell over the month to November 2020. Total hours worked had a record quarterly increase since records began in 1971, with the quarter covering months when lockdown was eased. Note that total hours worked were low in the previous quarter. Vacancies showed some signs of recovery but are still below pre-coronavirus levels.

Annual growth in employee pay also strengthened, as employees continued to return to work from furlough, but despite this pay growth remains subdued as there was a fall in the proportion of lower-paid employees. In 2020, 15.1% of all employee jobs were low-paid, which is the lowest proportion since comparable records began in 1997.

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 August-October 2020, the number of people aged 16+ in employment was 32.52 million, 144,000 fewer than the previous quarter and 280,000 fewer than the previous year. The employment rate was 75.2%, 0.5 percentage points down on the previous quarter.
  • The UK unemployment rate was 4.9%, 0.7 percentage points up on the previous quarter. Unemployment levels rose by 241,000 on the quarter to 1.69 million.
  • 60 million people aged 16-64 were economically inactive, little changed from 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 September 2020 was 0 million. There was a record increase of 104.9 million (12.3%) on the quarter since records began in 1971. Total hours are still at their lowest point since April-June 2013. Before the pandemic, in December-February 2020, the figure was 1,052.2.
  • Redundancies increased by a record 217,000 on the quarter to its highest recorded level of370,000 since comparable records began in 1995.
  • There were 547,000 job vacancies in September-November 2020, 110,000 more than the previous quarter but 251,000 fewer than the year before.
  • Average wages increased in real terms in the three months to October 2020, with an annual change of 1.9% including bonuses and 2.1% excluding bonuses.
  • The claimant count increased slightly between October and November 2020 to 2.7 million. Since March 2020, when the lockdown began, the claimant count has increased by 1.4 million.

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