Office for National Statistics Latest Market Economic Commentary

Office for National Statistics Release its Latest Labour Market Economic Commentary

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its latest labour market commentary this month ahead of the general election in December.

Office for National Statistics Release its Latest Labour Market Economic Commentary

As the main political parties release their manifestos to drive forward the UK economy and society, the need for a significant and sustainable labour market to deliver the committed changes is centre stage.

The commentary from ONS provides additional economic analysis of the latest UK labour market headline statistics and long-term trends for November 2019. The latest evidence from the ONS helps to inform the current debate.

Some of the key statistics drawn from the commentary are detailed below:

  • In Quarter 3, the number of people in employment fell by 58,000 and those in unemployment fell by 23,000 to 1.31 million, which is 3.8%. Unemployment has decreased by 72,000 compared to a year earlier.
  • The fall in employment was driven by the number of women in employment, down by 93,000 to 15.46 million. Over the same period, the number of employed men increased by 35,000 to 17.3 million
  • The fall in the level of unemployment was driven by both men and women. Available unemployed now stands at 731,000 men and 575,000 women.
  • The number of part-time workers fell by 164,000 to 8.54 million, while the number of full-time workers increased by 106,000 to 24.21 million. The decline in part-time workers was driven by women (down 106,000 in the quarter) and the increase in full-time employment by men (up by 93,000 in the quarter).
  • The number of women who work part-time because of illness or disability has been growing fast and accelerated after 2014
  • From 2012 onwards, the number of women joining the workforce increased at a faster rate than that of men
  • Economic inactivity (neither employed or unemployed) rose by 53,000. The increase in the level of economic inactivity was mainly for women, for whom the number increased by 75,000 to 5.28 million. This was the largest increase since Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2010. The number of economically inactive men reduced by 21,000 to 3.33 million.
  • The people who are economically inactive can be categorised by age. The latest UK data show that people aged 18 to 24 years who were economically inactive increased by 89,000 on the quarter to 1.73 million. This was the only age group to experience record increases in both economic inactivity level and rate in the year to September 2019.
  • From the period November 2018 to January 2019 onwards, employment growth has slowed. Economic inactivity reached a record low in the period November 2018 to February 2019 and showed signs of gradual increase thereafter. Vacancies peaked in the period November 2018 to January 2019 and have steadily fallen thereafter
  • The number of unemployed people per vacancy had a downward trend from 2011 onwards, reaching a minimum of 1.5 in the period January to March 2019, and has picked up to 1.6 since
  • The number of vacancies in the economy reduced by 11,000 on the quarter to reach 814,000 in Quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019. The number of vacancies reached a peak of 861,000 in the period November 2018 to January 2019 and has been decreasing since then.


Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of Energy & Utility Skills, commented: “The lack of any joined up and coherent UK labour market strategy and approach in such a constrained market stands out as policy defect that must be addressed. It is of the highest importance to utility employers and will be a critical enabler for the next UK government if it is to have the human capital required to achieve its aims. At least in the short term, there must be a focus on ensuring that the available UK talent flows to the sectors of most strategic value to the economy, society and the environment. The UK utility sector is one of those sectors, and as the largest single contributor to the £0.6 trillion National Infrastructure Plan, it also provides essential heat, light, power, water, sanitation and waste recovery services to over 66 million people every day. This ONS evidence also indicates that – right now – the UK simply does not have the available employed or unemployed talent pool needed to achieve the desired diversity goals.”

Find Out More

To find out more and read the full labour market commentary (November 2019) from the ONS, click here.