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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.

In the latest quarter there was a further fall in employment, with the employment rate at its joint lowest rate since 2017. Although there was an increase in unemployment, this was smaller than the increase seen in previous quarters. Average pay continues to grow at a faster rate than inflation.

Key figures

  • In November 2020-January 2021, the number of people aged 16+ in employment was 32.37 million, 147,000 fewer than the previous quarter and 611,000 fewer than the previous year. The employment rate was 75.0%, down from 75.2% in the previous quarter.
  • The UK unemployment rate was 5.0%, up slightly from 4.9% in the previous quarter. Unemployment levels rose by 11,000 on the quarter to 1.70 million.
  • 8.71 million people aged 16-64 were economically inactive, up 108,000 from the previous quarter. The inactivity rate was 21.0%, up from 20.8%.
  • Redundancies fell by 62,000 on the quarter but increased by 202,000 on the year to 308,000.
  • Average wages increased in real terms in the three months to January 2020, with an annual change of 4.2% including bonuses and 3.6% excluding bonuses.


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