ONS COVID-19 Briefing: Labour Market in the Regions of the UK

 

Regional, local authority and Parliamentary constituency breakdowns of changes in UK employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, and other related statistics.

Key points

  • For the three months ending November 2020, the highest employment rate estimate in the UK was in the South East (78.7%) and the lowest was in Northern Ireland (70.6%).
  • The highest unemployment rate estimate in the UK was in London (6.9%) and the lowest was in Northern Ireland (3.2%).
  • The highest economic inactivity rate estimate in the UK was in Northern Ireland (27.0%) and the lowest was in the South East (18.2%).
  • Between June and September 2020, workforce jobs decreased in all regions of the UK, except for Wales, which increased by 11,000; the largest decrease was in London at 98,000.
  • In September 2020, the region with the highest estimated proportion of workforce jobs in the services sector was London at 92.0%, while the East Midlands had the highest proportion of jobs in the production sector at 12.5%.
  • Total weekly hours worked, for the 12 months ending September 2020, varied between London, with 147 million hours worked and Northern Ireland, with 26 million hours worked; the South East saw the largest decrease in total weekly hours worked compared with the same period last year, down 13.2 million hours per week.
  • The highest average estimated actual weekly hours worked, for the 12 months ending September 2020, was in London at 30.9 hours and the lowest was in the North East at 27.9 hours; for full-time workers, it was highest in London and Northern Ireland, both at 35.0 hours, and for part-time workers it was highest in Northern Ireland at 15.0 hours.

Context

Employment

The employment rate estimate for people aged between 16 and 64 years for the UK was 75.2% for the period September to November 2020 (Figure 1). This is a decrease of 0.4 percentage points compared with the previous quarter (June to August 2020).

For the period September to November 2020:

  • the UK region with the highest employment rate estimate was the South East at 78.7%
  • the UK region with the lowest employment rate estimate was Northern Ireland at 70.6%
  • the largest increases in the employment rate estimate, compared with the previous quarter (June to August 2020), were in the South West and Scotland, both at 0.5 percentage points
  • the largest decrease in the employment rate estimate, compared with the previous quarter (June to August 2020), was in the North West, with a joint record decrease of 1.4 percentage points; the employment level also saw a record decrease

The employment rate estimate for the East was 76.9% for September to November 2020, down from the equivalent period last year of 78.5%.

Workforce jobs (first published 15 December 2020)

For September 2020:

  • there were an estimated 34.69 million workforce jobs in the UK; this is 942,000 fewer than a year ago (September 2019) and 475,000 fewer than the previous quarter (June 2020)
  • workforce jobs decreased in all regions of the UK between September 2019 and September 2020; the largest estimated decrease of 197,000 was in London
  • the smallest estimated decrease in workforce jobs between September 2019 and September 2020 was seen in Yorkshire and The Humber at 2,000

Actual hours worked (first published 16 July 2020)

For the period October 2019 to September 2020:

  • total weekly hours worked were highest in London, at 147 million hours worked per week; the lowest was in Northern Ireland, at 26 million hours
  • all regions of the UK saw a decrease in the total weekly hours worked compared with the same period of the previous year (October 2018 to September 2019)
  • the South East saw the largest decrease in total weekly hours, of 13.2 million hours to 135.0 million hours
  • Northern Ireland saw the smallest decrease in total weekly hours, of 2.4 million hours to 26.0 million hours

For average actual hours:

  • the UK region with the highest estimated average actual weekly hours worked (for all workers) was London at 30.9 hours
  • the UK region with the lowest estimated average actual weekly hours worked (for all workers) was the North East at 27.9 hours
  • all regions of the UK saw a decrease in the average hours worked, compared with the same period of the previous year (October 2018 to September 2019); the largest of which were in the North West and Scotland, both with a decrease of 3.2 hours

Unemployment

The unemployment rate estimate for people aged 16 years and over for the UK was 5.0% for the period September to November 2020. This is an increase of 0.6 percentage points compared with the previous quarter (June to August 2020).

For the period September to November 2020:

  • the UK region with the highest unemployment rate estimate was London at 6.9%
  • the UK region with the lowest unemployment rate estimate was Northern Ireland at 3.2%
  • the largest increase in the unemployment rate estimate compared with the previous quarter (June to August 2020) was seen in London, with a record increase of 1.7 percentage points for the region
  • the largest decrease in the unemployment rate estimate compared with the previous quarter (June to August 2020) was in Northern Ireland at 0.5 percentage points

Economic inactivity

The estimated economic inactivity rate for people aged between 16 and 64 years for the UK was 20.7% for the period September to November 2020. This is a decrease of 0.1 percentage point compared with the previous quarter (June to August 2020).

For the period September to November 2020:

  • the UK region with the highest estimated economic inactivity rate was Northern Ireland at 27.0%
  • the UK region with the lowest estimated economic inactivity rate was the South East at 18.2%
  • the largest increase in the economic inactivity rate estimate compared with the previous quarter (June to August 2020) was in the North West at 1.2 percentage points
  • the largest decreases in the economic inactivity rate estimate compared with the previous quarter (June to August 2020) were in Yorkshire and The Humber and the East Midlands, both at 1.1 percentage points