Labour Market Statistics for December

The ONS have released the latest Labour Market Overview covering the months August – October, there is additional data that covers November.

The Headlines

  • There are 32.52 million people aged 16 years and over in employment, 280,000 fewer than a year earlier. This was the largest annual decrease since January to March 2010. 
  • The employment rate is 75.2%, 0.9 percentage points lower than a year earlier and 0.5 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.
  • There are 1.69 million people unemployed, up 411,000 on the same period the previous year and up 241,000 on the quarter.
  • The unemployment rate is 4.9%, 1.2 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.7 percentage points higher than the previous quarter.
  • There are 8.60 million people aged between 16 and 64 years not in the labour force (economically inactive). This was 4,000 less than a year earlier and 2,000 less than the previous quarter.
  • The economic inactivity rate is 20.8%; down by 0.2 percentage points on the year and unchanged on the quarter
  • The Claimant Count increased slightly in November 2020 to 2.7 million (Figure 5). This represents a monthly increase of 2.5% and an increase of 114.8%, or 1.4 million, since March 2020

Other data shows that Redundancies stand at 370,000.This an increase of a record 251,000 on the year, and a record 217,000 on the quarter. Whilst the number of people included in payroll data has fallen; there are 28.2 million payrolled employees, a fall of 2.7% on this time last year; a decline of 781,000 people over the 12-month period.

What does this mean for youth employment?

  • The number of 16-24 year olds employed stands at 3,514,422. Employment has fallen by 90,300 in the last quarter and by 244,428 in last year.
  • The number of 16-24 year olds unemployed stands at 596,400, a rate of 14.5%. Unemployment has fallen by 29,293 since the last quarter and has risen by 123,616 in the year.
  • The number of 16-24 year olds economically inactive stands at 2,743,967, a rate of 40%. The number of economically inactive has risen by 51,977 in the last quarter and has risen by 79,660 in the last year.
  • The number of 16-24 year olds included in the claimant count (claiming unemployment related benefits) is 516, 857. The claimant count is slightly up from 516, 789 since last month, and an increase of 283, 778 from last year.


In this ONS data set we are able to see the sectors that have been hit hardest by Covid, and further rises in redundancies. Whilst it is no surprise that retail and hospitality show the sharpest falls, it is a further reminder that whilst Covid remains a threat to health it is impacting some of the biggest sectors and employers of young people.

Unemployment for 16-17 year olds has risen to 28.3% from 25.3% compared with last month’s figures, and up from 20.0% from a year ago. Those not in full time education or employment has risen to just over 1 million, the biggest rise in NEET is amongst 18-24 year olds.

Those furthest from the labour market, who face multiple barriers need our sharpest focus, confidence will grow again and jobs will be created but we must make sure that these young people are not left behind in the future recovery.

Whilst Kickstart, Apprenticeship Grants and other incentives are being driven by the government, the practicalities of placements and of employers feeling confident enough to offer these opportunities right now with continued restrictions is another matter. There will need to be a strong focus on job creation in 2021.

We are working with government departments through advisory roles, the APPG for Youth Employment and the Youth Employment Group . We would like to see meaningful and quality education, employment and training opportunities for young people, ensuring that disadvantaged groups and those furthest away from the labour market have access to the opportunities that they need.

For more information, please email or call 01536 513388.

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