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Because of falling response rates in the Labour Force Survey, the Office for National Statistics only published some experimental headline data in October and November 2023. Headline data for employment, unemployment and inactivity in this briefing should therefore be treated with more caution than usual.

In July to September 2023 the labour market remained stagnant: employment rose slightly, but unemployment stayed around the same and inactivity rose. Vacancies fell on the quarter in August to October 2023, as they have every quarter since May to July 2023. Nominal pay growth remained strong and there was an increase in real pay in the three months to September 2023, as inflation fell slightly.

Key figures

  • In July to September 2023, the number of people aged 16+ in employment was 32.98 million, and the employment rate for people aged 16-64 was 75.7%, the same as the previous quarter. Employment levels increased by 54,000 in the last quarter and increased by 244,000 over the last year.
  • The UK unemployment rate was 4.2%, and 1.45 million people aged 16+ were unemployed. Unemployment levels stayed at a similar level to the last quarter but increased by 224,000 on the year and were 72,000 above pre-pandemic levels.
  • 8.73 million people aged 16-64 were economically inactive, and the inactivity rate was 20.9%. Inactivity levels rose by 33,000 from the previous quarter but fell by 272,000 in the last year. They were 280,000 above their pre-pandemic level.
  • The number of vacancies fell in the last quarter and over the year to 957,000 in August to October 2023, but remain 156,000 above pre-pandemic levels.
  • Average wages including bonuses increased in real terms in the three months to September 2023, with an annual change of 1.1%. The real annual change in wages excluding bonuses was 1.0%. Nominal wages continued to rise, at a rate of 7.9% including bonuses and 7.7% excluding bonuses. Both of these were close to the highest annual increases in nominal pay excluding bonuses since comparable records began in 2001.

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