Latest UK Labour Market And Youth Employment Statistics: October 2019

UK labour market statistics

The latest ONS Labour Market Overview shows the UK employment rate was estimated at 75.9%, higher than a year earlier (75.6%) but 0.2 percentage points lower than the previous quarter. The data available covers the period between June to August 2019.


  • The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.9%, this is lower than a year earlier (4.0%) but 0.1 percentage points higher than the previous quarter
  • The UK economic inactivity rate was estimated at 21.0%, this is lower than a year earlier (21.2%) but 0.1 percentage points higher on the previous quarter

Youth Unemployment: 16 – 24 year olds

  • 16-24 Unemployment rate (Jun-Aug 2019): 11.8%, up from 11.6% last quarter and from 10.9% last year
  • 16-24 NEET (Apr-Jun 2019): 792,000 (11.5%), of whom 330,000 (41.6%) are Unemployed NEETs

The youth unemployment rate has been gradually increasing since the data covering Feb – Mar 2019 was released in May 2019. We explore the age breakdown in more detail below.


The total of 16-17-year olds not in full time education has increased by 25,000 (174,000 to 199,000) since 2018, alongside a 3,000 increase in the 16-17 population over the same time-period.

Of the 25,000 increase:

  • 5000 can be found in the increased employment level – 85,000 from 80,000
  • 11,000 can be found in the increased unemployment level – 27,000 from 16,000
  • 8,000 can be found in the increased economically inactive level – 86,000 from 78,000

(figures don’t add up to 25,000 exactly due to rounding)

The total of 16-17-year olds not in full time education who are unemployed now makes up 24% of the 16-17 economically active population, where it only made up 16.5% a year earlier.


The population of 18-24-year olds has decreased by 82,000 in the past year. With this, it appears that the total and percentage of unemployed young people aged 18-24 has increased.

  • The employment rate for 18-24-year olds not in full time education has dropped by 1.5% to 75.5%
  • The proportion of 18-24-year olds not in full time education who are unemployed is 9%, up from 7.7% a year earlier
  • The unemployment level for all aged 18 to 24 not in full-time education rose by 41,000 to 330,000 from 289,000 a year earlier


The trend for 2019 appears to be flowing against the positive one witnessed over the past 6 years. This comes as market uncertainty lingers with no clarity offered on the Brexit situation, which the Learning and Work Institute has suggested may be slowing, and in this case, beginning to reverse the positive trends observed over the past 6 years. Referring to survey evidence, they also report that current high levels of economic uncertainty are impacting negatively on companies’ hiring decisions which could be exacerbating the unemployment situation. 

When broken down by gender, unemployment rates for 16-24-year olds not in education paint unequal outcomes for young men and boys. For young men and boys in this cohort, the unemployment rate has increased by 2.9%, in contrast with the milder 0.4% increase for women and girls. In terms of unemployed levels, for women and girls its 124,000 and for men and boys its 233,000. Our look at the latest NEET stats published in August 2019 revealed a similar gender disparity with 208,000 male unemployed NEETs and 122,000 female NEETs. No mainstream consensus exists to explain why males are disproportionately experiencing this latest downward trend, but we are continuing to follow the situation.   




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