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People claiming unemployment benefits by constituency, October 2017

Published Wednesday, November 15, 2017

This paper provides figures for the number of people claiming unemployment benefits (the “claimant count”) by parliamentary constituency, as well as a summary of the latest labour market statistics for the UK as a whole.

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Employment and unemployment both fell over the past quarter but were offset by a rise in the number of people who are economically inactive (not in work and not looking for work). Employment is still well above last year’s levels.

Summary figures for the UK

The UK unemployment rate was 4.3% in July-September 2017, the lowest it has been since 1975. The ILO measure of unemployment was 1.42 million people, 59,000 fewer than the previous quarter and 182,000 fewer than the year before.

The number of people in employment was 32.06 million, down 14,000 from the previous quarter but 279,000 more than the year before. The employment rate was 75.0%, up from 74.4% a year earlier.

8.88 million people aged 16-64 were economically inactive, 117,000 more than the previous quarter but 20,000 fewer than a year ago.

Average weekly total pay in Great Britain increased by 2.2% in the three months to September 2017 compared with the previous year. Regular pay (excluding bonuses) also grew by 2.2%. CPI inflation averaged 2.8% over this period, meaning that average earnings fell by 0.6% after taking inflation into account.

Constituency claimant count figures are affected by the ongoing rollout of Universal Credit

The claimant count comprises people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, or people claiming Universal Credit who are required to seek work. Under Universal Credit, a broader span of claimants are required to look for work than under Jobseeker’s Allowance. This has the effect of increasing the number of unemployed claimants. The effect is most visible in areas operating Universal Credit "Full Service” (where rollout of Universal Credit is more advanced).

Therefore, changes in claimant numbers or constituency rankings may be a consequence of the Universal Credit rollout rather than changes in economic conditions. In areas operating Full Service, there has been a sharp increase in the claimant count over the past year. However in constituencies not operating Full Service, their constituency ranking (based on their claimant rate) may still be affected – as Full Service areas move up the rankings, other areas must necessarily move down the rankings.

Most jobcentre areas have not yet moved to Full Service but will do so over the course of 2017 and 2018. For more details see section 2 of this briefing paper and the Library's briefing paper on Universal Credit and the claimant count.


Commons Briefing papers CBP-8138

Authors: Feargal McGuinness; Jennifer Brown; Andy Powell

Topics: Economic situation, Employment, Unemployment

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