Labour market overview, UK - Office for National Statistics (2023)

1. Other pages in this release

  • Average weekly earnings in Great Britain

  • Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, UK

  • Employment in the UK

  • Labour market in the regions of the UK

  • Vacancies and jobs in the UK

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2. Main points

The UK employment rate was estimated at 76.0% in March to May 2023, 0.2 percentage points higher than December 2022 to February 2023. The quarterly increase in employment was mainly attributed topart-time employees.

The estimate of payrolled employees for June 2023 shows a monthly decrease, down 9,000 on the revised May 2023 figure, to 30.0 million. The June 2023 estimate should be treated as a provisional estimate and is likely to be revised when more data are received next month.

The unemployment rate for March to May 2023 increased by 0.2 percentage points on the quarter to 4.0%. The increase in unemployment was driven by people unemployed for up to 12 months.

The economic inactivity rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points on the quarter, to 20.8% in March to May 2023. The decrease in economic inactivity during the latest quarter was largely driven by those inactive for other reasons, those looking after family or home, andthose who areretired.

The increases in the employment and unemployment rates and the decrease in the inactivity rate during the latest quarter were attributed to men.

In April to June 2023, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 85,000 on the quarter to 1,034,000. Vacancies fell on the quarter for the 12th consecutive period.

Growth in employees' average total pay (including bonuses) was 6.9% and growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 7.3% in March to May 2023. For regular pay, this equals the highest growth rate, which was also seen last month and during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic period for April to June 2021.

In real terms (adjusted for inflation), growth in total and regular pay fell on the year in March to May 2023, by 1.2% for total pay and 0.8% for regular pay.

There were 128,000 working days lost because of labour disputes in May 2023, the lowest number of days lost since July 2022.

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3. Latest indicators at a glance

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4. Labour market data

Summary of labour market statistics
Dataset A01 | Released 11 July 2023
Labour market statistics summary data table, including earnings, employment, unemployment, redundancies and vacancies, Great Britain and UK, published monthly.

Earnings and employment from Pay As You Earn Real Time Information, seasonally adjusted
Dataset | Released 11 July 2023
Earnings and employment statistics from Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) (experimental statistics), seasonally adjusted.

Labour Force Survey single-month estimates
Dataset X01 | Released 11 July 2023
Labour Force Survey (LFS) single-month estimates of employment, unemployment, and economic inactivity. Not designated as National Statistics.

A guide to labour market data
Methodology | Updated 21 April 2023
Summary of labour market datasets, providing estimates of employment, unemployment, average weekly earnings and the number of vacancies. Tables are listed alphabetically and by topic.

View all related data on our related data page.

Alternatively, Nomis provides free access to the most detailed and up-to-date UK labour market statistics.

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5. Glossary

Average weekly earnings

Average weekly earnings, detailed in our Guide to labour market statistics methodology, measure money paid by employers to employees in Great Britain before tax and other deductions from pay. The estimates are not just a measure of pay rises, because they also reflect, for example, changes in the overall structure of the workforce.

More high-paid jobs in the economy would have an upward effect on the earnings growth rate.

Economic inactivity

People not in the labour force (also known as economically inactive in our Guide to labour market statistics methodology are not in employment but do not meet the internationally accepted definition of unemployment. This is because they have not been seeking work within the last four weeks or they are unable to start work in the next two weeks. The economic inactivity rate is the proportion of people aged between 16 and 64 years who are not in the labour force.


Employmentmeasures the number of people in paid work or who had a job that they were temporarily away from (for example, because they were on holiday or off sick). This differs from the number of jobs, because some people have more than one job. The employment rate is the proportion of people aged between 16 and 64 years who are in employment. See our Guide to labour market statistics methodology for a more detailed explanation.


Unemployment measures people without a job who have been actively seeking work within the last four weeks and are available to start work within the next two weeks. The unemployment rate is not the proportion of the total population who are unemployed. It is the proportion of the economically active population (people in work and those seeking and available to work) who are unemployed. See our Guide to labour market statistics methodology for more information.


Vacancies are defined as positions for which employers are actively seeking recruits from outside their business or organisation. The estimates are based on the Vacancy Survey. This is a survey of businesses designed to provide estimates of the stock of vacancies across the economy, excluding agriculture, forestry, and fishing (a small sector for which the collection of estimates would not be practical). For more information, see our Guide to labour market statistics methodology.

Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI)

These data come from HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Real Time Information (RTI) system. They cover the whole population, rather than a sample of people or companies, and they will allow for more detailed estimates of the population. The release is classed as experimental statistics (see our Guide to experimental statistics methodology), as the methodologies used to produce the statistics are still in their development phase. As a result, the series are subject to revisions.

A more detailed glossary is available in our Guide to labour market statistics methodology.

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6. Measuring the data

Our Comparison of labour market data sources methodology compares data sources and discusses some of the main differences.


For more information on how labour market data sources were affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see our Coronavirus and the effects on UK labour market statistics article.

Labour Force Survey reweighting

The population totals used for the latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates use projected growth rates from Real Time Information (RTI) data for EU and non-EU populations based on 2021 patterns. Therefore, the total population used for the LFS, does not account for any changes in migration, birth rates, death rates, and so on since June 2021. As such, levels estimates may be under- or over-estimating the true values and should be used with caution. Estimates of rates will, however, be robust.

We are planning to reweight the Labour Force Survey (LFS) published data using more up-to-date population estimates, drawing on the latest census data alongside our labour market release in October 2023. We intend to publish indicative estimates of the reweighted LFS in an article publishing in September 2023.

Making our published spreadsheets accessible

Following the Government Statistical Service (GSS) guidance on Releasing statistics in spreadsheets, we will be amending our published tables over the coming months to improve usability, accessibility and machine readability of our published statistics. To help users change to the new formats, we will be publishing sample versions of a selection of our tables and, where practical, initially publish the tables in both the new and current formats. If you have any questions or comments, please email us at

Labour market transformation

We have published a Labour market transformation article and a Transforming the LFS blog post providing an update on the transformation of labour market statistics.

We welcome your feedback on this latest update and our plans. Please email us at to tell us what you think.

Occupational data in Office for National Statistics (ONS) surveys

On 18 July 2022, the Office for National Statistics announced anissue with the collection of some occupational data. On 26 September 2022, we informed users of the impact of the coding error in ourImpact of miscoding of occupational data article. We have undertaken a recoding exercise to correct the error and have revised affected Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates alongside this release.For more detail on the new methodology used and its impact, see Revision of miscoded occupational data in the ONS Labour Force Survey, UK article, released 11 July at 9:30.

We will be updating Annual Population Survey estimates published onNomisalongside the August 2023 labour market release.

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7. Strengths and limitations

The estimates presented in this bulletin contain uncertainty. For more information, see our Uncertainty and how we measure it methodology.

Further information is available in our Guide to labour market statistics methodology.

Information on revisions is available in our Labour market statistics revisions policy.

Information on the strengths and limitations of this bulletin is available in our previous bulletin, Labour market overview, UK: April 2021.

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8. Related links

Cost of living latest insights
Web page | Updated as and when data become available
The latest data and trends about the cost of living. Explore changes in the cost of everyday items and how this is affecting people.

Economic activity and social change in the UK, real-time indicators: 6 July 2023
Bulletin | Released 6 July 2023
Early experimental data and analysis on economic activity and social change in the UK. These real-time indicators are created using rapid response surveys, novel data sources and experimental methods.

Business insights and impact on the UK economy: 29 June 2023
Bulletin | Released 29 June 2023
The impact of challenges facing the economy and other events on UK businesses. Based on responses from the voluntary fortnightly business survey (BICS) to deliver real-time information to help assess issues affecting UK businesses and economy, including financial performance, workforce, trade and business resilience.

Sickness absence in the UK labour market: 2022
Article | Released 26 April 2023
Sickness absence rates of workers in the UK labour market, including number of days lost and reasons for absence.

The impact of strikes in the UK: June 2022 to February 2023
Article | Released 8 March 2023
A range of sources exploring the impact of strikes in the context of the wider economic and social landscape.

Returning to the workplace - the motivations and barriers for people aged 50 years and over, Great Britain: August 2022
Article | Released 19 December 2022
The characteristics and motivations associated with adults aged 50 years and over considering returning to the labour market after leaving their previous job since the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Experimental statistics.

Half a million more people are out of the labour force because of long-term sickness
Article | Released 10 November 2022
Profile of people who are economically inactive because of long-term sickness, including age, sex, health condition and previous employment. Trends in economic inactivity because of long-term sickness in the UK over time from 2019 to 2022.

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9. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 11 July 2023, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Labour market overview, UK: July 2023

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What is the current labour market in the UK? ›

Main points. The UK employment rate was estimated at 76.0% in February to April 2023, 0.2 percentage points higher than November 2022 to January 2023. The number of people in employment increased to a record high in the latest quarter with increases in both the number of employees and self-employed workers.

How do I find labor market information? ›

The Labor Market Information Division (LMID) is the official source for California Labor Market Information. The LMID promotes California's economic health by providing information to help people understand California's economy and make informed labor market choices.

Is the Labour Force Survey mandatory? ›

Survey participation:

Mandatory under the Statistics Act.

How big is the UK labour market? ›

In March to May 2023, there were 33.05 million people in employment in the UK. The employment rate (the proportion of the population aged 16-64 in work) was 76.0%. The employment rate gradually rose from 2011 to the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Is the UK having a labor shortage? ›

The decrease in immigration to the UK after Brexit has also had an impact on labour supply. In fact, according to research published in January 2023, it has led to a shortage of around 330,000 workers in Britain.

What is the average labour rate in the UK? ›

Average annual labour costs by industry

According to the International Labour Organisation, the average UK labour cost for an employee in 2023 is £25.92. Post-Covid, labour costs in the UK increased across all industries except for the human health and social work industry, where they fell by 5.4%.

What is the best resource to find data about the labor market? ›

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects, analyzes, and publishes reliable information on many aspects of our economy and society. We measure employment, compensation, worker safety, productivity, and price movements.

What are the 3 labor market indicators? ›

Labor Market Indicators by Gender, Age and Recession Period - FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of NEW YORK. Three key measures of labor market activity are the unemployment rate, the labor force participation rate, and the employment-to-population ratio.

What is the most common indicator in the labour market? ›

While no single number captures all the nuances in the health of the labor market, the unemployment rate is considered one of the most important economic indicators. The unemployment rate measures the share of workers in the labor force who do not currently have a job but are actively looking for work.

What happens if you don't answer Statcan? ›

Canada's Statistics Act calls for a fine of up to $500 and/or up to three months in jail for refusing to participate in a mandatory survey. Flook said he works in the computer field “and this whole thing rang some pretty loud alarm bells,” particularly about being asked for personal information over the phone.

What happens if you don't do the Labour force survey? ›

Yes. The Labour Force Survey is conducted under the Statistics Act. Refusing to answer or knowingly providing false information is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

What is the Labour Force Survey UK? ›

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is a study of the employment circumstances of the UK population. It is the largest household study in the UK and provides the official measures of employment and unemployment.

Is the UK labour market highly regulated? ›

1 How the labour market is regulated

By this measure the UK is lightly regulated by international standards.

Why is UK labour market flexible? ›

Why has there been an increase in labour market flexibility? Globalisation has opened the UK to more international competition, therefore, to remain competitive firms have to keep labour costs relatively low and have sought to use more flexible labour contracts to keep labour affordable.

Who is the UK's biggest employer? ›

The NHS is the biggest employer in Europe and the world's largest employer of highly skilled professionals. 1.3 million people across the health service in England are devoting their working lives to caring for others. That is one in every 25 working age adults, three quarters of whom are women.

Is the current UK labour market tight or loose? ›

The labour market is currently tight, and recruitment remains challenging.

How is the employment situation in UK? ›

Key figures

In April to June 2023, the number of people aged 16+ in employment was 32.93 million, and the employment rate for people aged 16-64 was 75.7%, down from 75.9% in the previous quarter. Employment levels decreased by 66,000 in the last quarter but increased by 137,000 over the last year.

What is the job situation in UK? ›

The UK job market remains stable, though we find unfilled job vacancies are historically high in 2023, with the most sought-after talent and skills hard to come by across many different industries.

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