A new release calendar has been launched on GOV.UK. The Publication Hub website will soon be decommissioned.

Skip to content

Unemployment is measured by the Labour Force Survey. Unemployed people are jobless, have been actively seeking work in the past four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks; or they are out of work, have found a job, and are waiting to start it in the next two weeks.

Publications

Atlas of Deprivation: England
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Indices of Multiple Deprivation for England combine a number of areas, chosen to cover a range of economic, social and housing issues into a single deprivation score for each Lower Layer Super Output Area in England. The Atlas of Deprivation allows a map visualisation of the overall LSOA deprivation score (rank) and the score (rank) for each of the seven domains by local authority.
Benefit Cap Pre-national Implementation Statistics in the Four Local Authorities Subject to the Phased Implementation of the Benefit Cap
Department: Work and Pensions
This release will include, a point in time number of households affected by the Benefit Cap, Local Authority geographical breakdown and main benefit type, tenure type, household type and number of children breakdowns.
Benefit Cap Statistics
Department: Work and Pensions
This release will include a point in time number of households affected by the Benefit Cap, Local Authority geographical breakdown, main benefit type, tenure type, household type and number of children breakdowns.
Census 2001 Commentaries by theme and region
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census paints a big picture of society and is a benchmark at the start of the 21st Century. Census 2001 commentaries look in a little more depth at the 'big picture' for the UK, and provide commentary on aspects of a topic in England and Wales as a whole, and on topics in Wales or the English regions. The counts that the commentaries are based on come from the Key Statistics for local authorities in England and Wales released in February 2003.
Census 2001 Key Statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 Key Statistics series of reports provide a compact and self-contained reference of key results from the Census in an easily digestible form. Each report includes results for every topic covered by the Census, for a range of different geographical breakdowns of England and Wales.
Census 2001 Local Authority Profiles
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 population profiles collect key figures from the first major reports on the 2001 Census - the 'key statistics for local authorities in England and Wales' - originally released in February 2003. This snapshot of the resident population provides population totals by age and sex and summary profile information covering People, Places and Families, Ethnicity and Religion, Health, Work and Housing.
Census 2001 Local authority thematic maps
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 thematic maps illustrate the distribution of a selection of the key statistics from the Census, for local authorities throughout England and Wales.
Census 2001 National Report for England and Wales
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 National Report for England and Wales contains detailed statistical tables that cover the range of topics from the 2001 Census. Released in two parts, the report contains results for England and Wales as a whole, in a variety of tables. Standard tables provide cross-tabulation of two or more variables, theme tables bring together a range of results on a particular population and supplementary tables provide further information on some individual variables.
Census 2001 Report for Parliamentary Constituencies
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 Report for parliamentary constituencies provides a compact and self-contained reference of key results for constituencies throughout the UK. The constituency profiles are a summary of the main Census indicators for each consituency, with more detailed results available on the CD accompanying the printed report. Results are provided for European Electoral Regions, Scottish Parliamentary Regions and Parliamentary Constituencies in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Census 2001 Summary theme figures and rankings
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Census 2001 Summary theme figures and rankings provide counts and rankings on aspects of a topic for each local authority in England and Wales. Each local authority has an England and Wales ranking, and local authorities are also grouped into Government Office Regions to provide a regional ranking. The counts and rankings are based on figures from the Key Statistics for local authorities in England and Wales which was originally released in February 2003.
Characteristics of young unemployed people
Department: Office for National Statistics
Characteristics of unemployed people aged 16 to 24.
Duration on working-age benefits, Great Britain
Department: Work and Pensions
This release looks at a snapshot of claimants each year and examines the total duration those individuals had spent in receipt of one or more of the main DWP working-age benefits over the preceding four years.
Estimates of Take-Up Reports (Northern Ireland)
Department: Social Development (Northern Ireland)
Information on the take-up of the main income-related benefits (Income Support, Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Job-Seekers Allowance).
Graduates in the Labour Market
Department: Office for National Statistics
Graduate unemployment over the recent past and the wages of graduates in the UK.
Household Statistics from the Annual Population Survey for Wales
Department: Welsh Government
This Statistical Bulletin looks at the percentage of workless households, children in workless households, lone parents and housing tenure in Wales.
Households that have never worked
Department: Office for National Statistics
Analysis of households containing no-one who has ever worked
Jobcentre Plus Activity Regarding Claimants Who Have Been Identified as Potentially Impacted by the Benefit Cap
Department: Work and Pensions
Jobcentre Plus collates data on the engagement activity it undertakes with claimants who may be affected by the benefit cap. These capture a number of activities including: the number of claimants accepting employment support and the number of claimants moving into employment.
Labour Force Survey Local Area Database (Northern Ireland)
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment).
Labour Force Survey Local Area Database (Northern Ireland)
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland)
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment).
Labour Force Survey Religion Report
Department: Office of the First and Deputy First Minister
To compare Roman Catholic and Protestant labour market outcomes.
Labour Market Statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
Employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, claimant count, average earnings, labour productivity, vacancies and labour disputes statistics.
Labour Market Statistics Quarterly Supplement
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland)
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment).
Labour Market Statistics Quarterly Supplement
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment).
Labour Market Statistics for Households in Wales
Department: Welsh Government
This dataset enables household analyses to be carried out at a Local Authority level, including details of people in workless households, children in workless households, lone parents and housing tenure.
Labour market status for young people by ethnicity
Department: Office for National Statistics
Estimates of labour market status (employment, unemployment and inactivity) for all people, men and women aged 16 to 24 by ethnicity for Quarter 4 each year from 2006 to 2011.
Local Area Labour Market
Department: Office for National Statistics
Presents a number of different indicators to give an overall picture of the labour market of local areas. Includes statistics relating to the employment, unemployment and benefit dependency of the resident population of the area; statistics relating to jobs and vacancies at workplaces in the area; and earnings statistics.
Measuring National Well-being
Department: Office for National Statistics
Measures of National Well-being. Drawing social and economic data from government and other organisations; painting a picture of UK society and how it changes.
Moving between Unemployment and Employment
Department: Office for National Statistics
This report examines how people move around the labour market between unemployment, employment and inactivity.
Northern Ireland Labour Market Report
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland)
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment, earnings).
Northern Ireland Labour Market Report
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Labour Market Statistics for Northern Ireland (employment, unemployment, earnings).
Reasons for leaving last job
Department: Office for National Statistics
Reasons why people left their previous jobs, focusing on whether the separation from the previous job was voluntary or involuntary. Trends in voluntary and involuntary job separations in the last decade are also examined.
Regional Economic Indicators
Department: Office for National Statistics
The Regional Economic Indicators examine regional differences within the UK economy. These are discussed via an ongoing series of articles focusing on the measurement of economic performance, welfare, productivity and the drivers of productivity across the UK regions. As well as providing the latest analysis of the relevant data, the articles examine the issues surrounding measurement at the regional level, in particular seeking to clarify the indicators best suited for different uses.
Regional labour market statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
Official statistics on employment, unemployment, inactivity, jobs and the Claimant Count for regions, local authorities and parliamentary constituencies.
Revisions to Labour Force Survey estimates due to re-weighting to the Census 2011 population
Department: Office for National Statistics
Revisions to Labour Force Survey estimates due to re-weighting to the Census 2011 population
Sustainable Development indicators
Department: Office for National Statistics
These indicators provide an overview of progress toward a sustainable economy, society and environment. Published alongside the headline and supplementary indicators are assessments of change, both short and long term.
The Productivity Conundrum
Department: Office for National Statistics
Additional economic analysis focusing on the interaction of GDP and the Labour Market.
The labour market across the UK in the current recession
Department: Office for National Statistics
Article on the labour market across the UK in the current recession
Urban Rural Reports (Northern Ireland)
Department: Social Development (Northern Ireland)
Looks at data from the Family Resources Survey classified by urban/rural regions.
Women in Northern Ireland
Department: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
Statistics on women in Northern Ireland, labour market, childcare provision, earnings.
Women in Northern Ireland
Department: Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland)
Statistics on women in Northern Ireland, labour market, childcare provision, earnings.
Working and workless households
Department: Office for National Statistics
nformation about households and the adults and children living in them, by their economic activity status. Regional differences across the UK will be provided.
Workless households for regions across the UK
Department: Office for National Statistics
Information about households and the adults and children living in them, by their economic activity status. Regional differences across the UK will be provided.
Young People not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs)
Department: Office for National Statistics
This release provides estimates of young people (aged from 16 to 24) who are NEET (not in education, employment or training) broken down by age, sex and by labour market status (unemployed and economically inactive).
Young people not in employment, education or training in the UK
Department: Office for National Statistics
This release contains information on young people (those aged 16-24) not in employment, education or training (NEET's) within the UK.
Youth Unemployment Statistics in Scotland
Department: Scottish Government
This publication will complement the main Office for National Statistics (ONS) regional labour market publication. The estimates are compiled by ONS and will be based on the rolling quarterly data from the Labour Force Survey. It will focus on the latest available youth unemployment data covering the period August - October 2011 and look at the change over the past year. A time series of data back to January - March 2008 will also be published.

Back to the top

Overview

The number of unemployed people in the UK is measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and includes people who meet the international definition of unemployment specified by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This ILO definition defines unemployed people as being:

  • without a job,?have been actively seek work in the past four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks, or

  • out of work, have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next two weeks

This definition is used by most other countries, by the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), and by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Unemployment levels and rates are published each month in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin. Estimates are available by sex, by age and by duration of unemployment.

Unemployment levels measure the total number of people estimated to be unemployed while unemployment rates allow changes in the labour market to be interpreted in a wider context by allowing for changes in the population. The headline measure of unemployment for the UK is the unemployment rate for those aged 16 and over.

Estimates of unemployment are also available for Government Office Regions (GORs) and at local area level. Regional estimates of total unemployment are measured by the Labour Force Survey (LFS) while more disaggregated regional unemployment estimates and local area estimates are measured by the Annual Population Survey (APS).

Estimates of total and working-age unemployment levels and rates for the UK are available from 1971. Most other unemployment estimates are available from 1992.

Unemployment data are useful for a variety of reasons. The government use unemployment along with other labour market indicators for macro-economic and labour market management. Data are also supplied to a range of international organisations such as the European Central Bank. In the social policy domain, unemployment is used as an indicator of relative hardship.

Unemployment is different from the claimant count, which measures only those?people who are claiming unemployment-related benefits (Jobseeker's Allowance since 1996). The claimant count is normally the lower measure because some unemployed people are not entitled to claim unemployment-related benefits, or choose not to do so.

Back to the top

Technical Data

Labour Force Survey

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is the largest regular household survey in the UK. The survey covers people resident in private households, National Health Service (NHS) accommodation and student halls of residence. It does not cover any other communal establishments. LFS interviews are conducted continuously throughout the year.

In any three-month period, a nationally representative sample of approximately 120,000 people aged 16 and over in around 53,000 households is interviewed. Each household is interviewed five times, at three monthly intervals.

The initial interview is conducted face-to-face by an interviewer visiting the address, except for residences north of the Caledonian Canal in Scotland (where face-to-face-interviews would be prohibitively expensive). The other interviews are conducted by telephone wherever possible. The survey asks a series of questions about respondents¡¯ personal circumstances and their labour market activity.

The survey is conducted in five ¡®waves¡¯?so that in any one quarter, one wave will be receiving their first interview, one wave their second, and so on, with one wave receiving their fifth and final interview. Therefore, there is an 80 per cent overlap in the samples for each successive quarter.

Seasonal adjustment

Seasonal movements can occur in labour market data for a number of reasons including holidays and recruitment patterns. For example, a large number of people leave full-time education and enter the labour market in the summer.

To make it easier to identify the underlying movements in the labour market, changes due solely to seasonal influences are removed from many series. This process is known as seasonal adjustment. LFS estimates are seasonally adjusted using the X-12 ARIMA package developed by Statistics Canada. The seasonal adjustment of LFS data is usually reviewed annually.

Sampling Variability

Survey estimates are prone to sampling variability. The easiest way to explain this is by example. In the April to June 2008 period, there were estimated to be 7,876,000 economically inactive people of working age in the UK, according to the LFS (seasonally adjusted). These figures were published in August 2008.

If we drew another sample for the same period we could get a different result, which could be higher or lower. In theory, we could draw many samples, and each would give a different result. The spread of these results leads to sampling variability.

Once we know the sampling variability we can calculate a range of values about the sample estimate that represents the expected variation with a given level of assurance. This is called a confidence interval.

For a 95 per cent confidence interval we expect that, in 95 per cent of the samples, the confidence interval will contain the true value of inactivity that would have been obtained by surveying the entire population. For example, for April to June 2008, we can be 95 per cent confident that the true level of inactivity was within 123,000 of the estimate of 7,876,000 (that is, within the range 7,753,000 to 7,999,000).

Sampling variability also affects changes over time. Changes in inactivity between three-month periods are rarely greater than the level that is explainable by sampling variability.

It is estimated that the number of inactive people of working age in the UK fell by 3,000 between January to March 2008 and April to June 2008 (seasonally adjusted). We can be 95 per cent confident that the true change lies in the range between a decrease of 90,000 and an increase of 84,000. It is more likely that inactivity decreased, rather than increased.

In general, the larger the number of people in the sample, the smaller the variation between estimates. Estimates based on the LFS for the whole of the UK are therefore more accurate than those for smaller geographical areas. Indications of sampling variability for national and regional LFS data are given in the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin.

Back to the top

Glossary

  • Annual Population Survey (APS)

    The Annual Population Survey is similar to the Labour Force Survey (LFS). It started in January 2004 and is compiled by taking data from the four calendar quarters of the LFS and combining them with additional samples of interviews.

  • Claimant Count

    The number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits. Since October 1996 this has been the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. The seasonally adjusted claimant count series, which goes back to 1971 for the UK, is estimated on a basis consistent with the current benefits regime, that is, it has been adjusted for discontinuities in coverage.

  • Labour Force Survey (LFS)

    The main source for information on the labour market in the UK. It is a random household survey of approximately 50,000 households every three months conducted by the Office for National Statistics. As well as private households, the survey includes people living in student halls of residence and National Health Service (NHS) accommodation.

  • Rates

    Generally the preferred measure of labour market statistics as they allow changes in the labour market to be interpreted in a wider context by allowing for changes in the overall population.

  • Unemployment

    The number of unemployed people in the UK is measured through the Labour Force Survey (LFS) following the internationally agreed definition recommended by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) ? an agency of the United Nations. Unemployed people are without a job, have actively sought work in the last four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks or out of work, have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next two weeks.?

  • Unemployment rate

    The headline unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the unemployment level for those aged 16 and over by the total number of economically active people aged 16 and over. Economically active is defined as those in employment plus those who are unemployed.

Back to the top

Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Labour Market Statistics Team

Email: labour.market@ons.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1633 455839

Labour Market Statistics Team Office for National Statistics Government Buildings Cardiff Road Newport NP10 8XG

Back to the top