May: Latest Employment Figures

Labour Market Outlook

The latest ONS data shows the employment rate at 74.8%, raising slightly and at its highest since comparable records began. The data available cover the period from January 2017 - March 2017.

The figures show that the number of people in work increased, the number of those unemployed fell and the number of people aged 16 - 24 not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) also fell.

We take a look at the headlines and the youth unemployment figures in more detail.

The Headlines

There were 31.95 million people in work, 122,000 more than for October to December 2016 and 381,000 more than for a year earlier.
The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.8%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.

There were 1.54 million unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 53,000 fewer than for October to December 2016 and 152,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
The unemployment rate (the proportion of those in work plus those unemployed, that were unemployed) was 4.6%, down from 5.1% for a year earlier and the lowest since 1975.
Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in real terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation) increased by 0.1% including bonuses, but fell by 0.2% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

Youth Employment figures

Figure 16_ Young people (aged 16 to 24) in the UK labour market for January to March 2017, seasonally adjusted

Within this data set young people are defined as those aged 16 - 24. Young people in full-time education are included in the employment estimates if they have a part-time job and are included in the unemployment estimates if they are seeking part-time work.

  • 3.95 million people in work (including 912,000 full-time students with part-time jobs)
  • 562,000 unemployed people (including 197,000 full-time students looking for part-time work)
  • 2.63 million economically inactive people, most of whom (2.03 million) were full-time students


The unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds for this period was 12.5%, (up slightly from last month (12.4%). The unemployment rate for those aged from 16 to 24 has been consistently higher than that for older age groups.

Since comparable records began in 1992:

  • the lowest youth unemployment rate was 11.6% for March to May 2001
  • the highest youth unemployment rate was 22.5% for late 2011

Next Steps:

Join Youth Employment UK as a Community Member and work with us to help tackle Youth Unemployment
Read our #CareersCampaign and see our recommendations for a new careers strategy
Read our APPG for Youth Employment report into youth employment data here
Read more of our articles and best practise support here

Further Information

Find out more about this topic by calling us on 0844 4143101
or emailing us at

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