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In February 2024, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reintroduced Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, which also includes a population reweighting. This is after only some experimental headline data was published between October 2023 and January 2024 due to falling response rates.

The ONS have said that the reintroduced LFS estimates should be treated with additional caution, and that the quarterly change estimates are particularly volatile.  As well as this, due to time constraints, the ONS has only reweighted LFS data from July to September 2022 onwards. This means there is a break in the data for the period before and after this quarter. The ONS has remodelled data back to June to August 2011 for the headline measures (employment, unemployment and economic inactivity), but not for other measures.

This briefing provides the statistics that have been published by the ONS, but these statistics should be treated with more caution than usual. There have also been some quite large revisions to the statistics published in the previous version of this briefing.

In the year to December 2023 to February 2024, employment levels fell and unemployment and economic inactivity levels increased. Real wages continued to grow in the three months to February 2024.

Key figures

  • In December 2023 to February 2024, the number of people aged 16+ in employment was 32.98 million, and the employment rate for people aged 16-64 was 74.5%. Employment levels have fallen by around 195,000 over the last year, and the employment rate has fallen.
  • The UK unemployment rate was 4.2%, and 1.44 million people aged 16+ were unemployed. Unemployment levels increased by 94,000 over the last year, and the unemployment rate rose.
  • 9.40 million people aged 16-64 were economically inactive, and the inactivity rate was 22.2%. Inactivity levels increased by around 275,000 over the last year and the inactivity rate increased.
  • The number of vacancies fell in the last quarter and over the year to 916,000 in January to March 2024, but remain above pre-pandemic levels.
  • Average wages including bonuses increased in real terms in the three months to February 2024, with an annual change of 1.8%. The real annual change in wages excluding bonuses was 2.1%. Nominal wages continued to rise, at a rate of 5.6% including bonuses and 6.0% excluding bonuses.

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