Labour Market Statistics : April 2021

The ONS have released the latest Labour Market Overview covering the months December 2020 – February 2021, there is additional data that covers March.

What Does This Mean For Youth Employment?

This data set explores what this looks like for young people (16-24 year olds).

Headlines for young people

Young people continue to feel the economic impacts of the lockdown more acutely, they are losing opportunities at a rate higher than other age groups, long term unemployment is at a five year high and employment is at its lowest rate for young people. Whilst overall numbers show shoots of positivity we need to support young people to understand the opportunities available to them. 

In work:

  • There are 3,456,241 in employment; this is down 131,863 on the quarter and down 367,840 on the year.
  • The employment rate stands at 50.5%; down 1.5 percentage points (ppts) on the previous quarter and down 5.1 ppts on the previous year.


  • 574,518 are unemployed; this is down 16,603 on the previous quarter but up 61,082 on the year.
  • The unemployment rate stands at 14.3%; up 0.1 ppt on the previous quarter and up 2.5 ppts on the previous year.
  • The claimant count stands at 504,162. This has fallen slightly in March by 19,400 (around 3.7%), but is still up by a huge 269,100 (114.5%) on the year.

Economically inactive

  • 2,811,948 are economically inactive (not looking for or able to start work); this is up 112,379 on the previous quarter and up 267,713 on the year.
  • The economic inactivity rate is 41.1%; up 1.7 ppts on previous quarter and 4.1 ppts on previous year.
  • PAYE data shows that under 25s account for 53.7% of the decrease in payrolled employees (around 436,000 young people) since March 2020.
  • Estimates for young people not in employment, full-time education, and training (NEET) have also fallen slightly.

Headlines for all ages

In work

  • There are 32.43 million in employment, down 73,000 on the quarter and 643,000 fewer than a year earlier.
  • The employment rate is 75.1%; this is down 0.1 ppt on the previous quarter and down 1.4 ppts on the same period the previous year.
  • The total number of weekly hours worked was 959.9 million; this is down 20.1 million hours on the quarter and down 92.3 million hours on the year.
  • The redundancy rate is 7.3 per thousand; this is down by a record 6.8 per thousand on the quarter but is still up by 3.5 per thousand on the year. The redundancy rate peaked in September to November at 14.2 per thousand.


  • There are 1.67 million unemployed working age people; this down 50,00 on the quarter but still up 311,000 on the year. This quarterly decrease is the first since October to December 2019.
  • The unemployment rate is 4.9%; 0.1 ppt lower than the previous quarter but still up 0.9 ppts higher on the year.
  • The claimant count stands at 2,673,700; this is up 0.4% on the month and 114.3% on the year.
  • Between January and March there were 607,000 vacancies; up 17,000 on the quarter but still down 178,000 (22.7%) than a year earlier.

Economically inactive

  • 8.67 million working age people were economically inactive; this is up by 80,000 on the quarter and up 303,000 on the year earlier.
  • The rate of economic inactivity stands at 20.9%; this is up 0.2 ppts on the quarter and 0.7 ppts on the year. This is the largest annual increase since February to April 2010.
  • PAYE data shows 28.2 million working age people were in payrolled employment. This is down 56,000 (0.2% on the quarter and down 2.8% (813,000) on the year. 355,000 of that fall are within the accommodation and food service sector and 223,000 live in London.

Our Commentary 

The headline figures for all ages show early signs that the labour market is beginning to stabilise;  employment numbers are stabilising  whilst the rise in unemployment is slowing down. Whilst we see a rise in economic inactivity this can be attributed to lockdown measures and young people choosing to enter or stay in education. The redundancy rate has almost halved in the last quarter and since the record high, but hiring is still slow and this could hinder a strong recovery.

Young people are still bearing the brunt of the crisis, the statistics for young people show that long-term unemployment is at a 5 year high, that they are losing out on opportunities more so than any other age groups and that employment is at its lowest rate.

The recovery so far has focused on job protection and we now need more focus on job creation. The hospitality and arts sector are still struggling in terms of PAYE falls in employment and vacancy data; we know these sectors have been hit hard by lockdown rules and that they employ a large number of young people.

For more information, please email or call 01536 513388.

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