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There was another fall in unemployment in the latest quarter (January-March 2022),with the unemployment rate falling to its lowest level since 1974. Although the fall in unemployment in this quarter corresponded to a rise in employment, there was also a rise in economic inactivity. Employment levels remain almost 450,000 below their pre-pandemic levels, with over 350,000 people becoming inactive.

The number of vacancies increased to a new record high, and for the first time since records began there are more job vacancies than unemployed people.

The current high rate of inflation led to a continued drop in real terms regular pay (excluding earnings). Real terms pay including bonuses grew, suggesting that many employers were reacting to high inflation by increasing bonuses rather than regular pay.

Key figures

  • In January-March 2022, the number of people aged 16+ in employment was 32.57 million, and the employment rate was 75.7%, up from 75.5% in the previous quarter. Employment levels have risen over the past quarter and the past year, but are still 444,000 below their pre-pandemic level.
  • The UK unemployment rate was 3.7%, and 1.26 million people aged 16+ were unemployed. Unemployment levels have fallen over the past quarter and the past year, and are 117,000 below their pre-pandemic levels.
  • 8.83 million people aged 16-64 were economically inactive, and the inactivity rate was 21.4%. Inactivity levels have risen on the quarter and the year, and are 368,000 above their pre-pandemic level.
  • The number of vacancies continues to increase and reached 1.30 million in February-April 2022. This was 499,000 more than pre-pandemic levels.
  • Average wages excluding bonuses fell in real terms in the three months to March 2022, with an annual change of -1.9% excluding bonuses,. They grew by 0.7% including bonuses.

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