Record number of employees on payroll

The latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for December 2021 to February 2022 show that the employment rate is unchanged on the quarter, while the unemployment rate decreased. Over the same period, the economic inactivity rate has increased slightly.

The UK employment rate was largely unchanged at 75.5%, but still below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels. The number of full-time employees increased on the quarter; however this was offset by a decrease in part-time employees. While the number of self-employed workers is still well below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, it has increased slightly in the recent quarter.

Payrolled employees for March 2022 shows a small monthly increase (up 35,000 on the revised February 2022) to a record 29.6 million.

The unemployment rate for December 2021 to February 2022 decreased by 0.2 percentage points on the quarter to 3.8%. Those unemployed for up to 12 months decreased during the latest period to a record low. Meanwhile, those unemployed for over 12 months continued to decrease from the peak in July to September 2021.

The economic inactivity rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 21.4% in December 2021 to February 2022. This increase was driven by those who are economically inactive because they are looking after family or home, retired, or long-term sick.

The number of job vacancies in January to March 2022 rose to a new record of 1,288,000. However, the rate of growth in vacancies continued to slow down. Over the quarter the number of vacancies increased by 50,200 with the largest increase in human health and social work.

Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 5.4% and growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 4.0% in December 2021 to February 2022. In real terms (adjusted for inflation), growth in total pay was 0.4% and regular pay fell on the year at negative 1.0%; strong bonus payments over the past six months have kept recent real total pay growth positive. Previous months’ strong growth rates were affected upwards by base and compositional effects. These initial temporary factors have worked their way out. However, we are now comparing the latest period with a period where certain sectors had increasing numbers of employees on furlough because of the winter 2020 to 2021 lockdown. Therefore, a small amount of base effect will be present for these sectors. This will not be to the degree we saw when comparing periods at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

For the full ONS report:

PAYadvice.UK 13/4/2022

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