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People claiming unemployment benefits by constituency, December 2017

Published Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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 in the UK increased strongly over the past quarter while the unemployment rate was little changed. Average weekly pay continued to increase more slowly than prices.

Summary figures for the UK 

The UK unemployment rate was 4.3% in September-November 2017. This is very low by historical standards. The ILO measure of unemployment was 1.44 million people, little changed from the previous quarter and 160,000 fewer than the year before.

The number of people in employment was 32.21 million, up 102,000 from the previous quarter and 415,000 more than the year before. The employment rate was 75.3%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.

8.73 million people aged 16-64 were economically inactive, 79,000 fewer than the previous quarter and 167,000 fewer than a year ago.

Average weekly total pay in Great Britain increased by 2.5% in the three months to November 2017 compared with the previous year. Regular pay (excluding bonuses) grew by 2.4%. CPI inflation averaged 3.0% over this period, meaning that average weekly total pay fell by 0.5%, and regular pay 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 jobcentres are still to move to Full Service, but will do so over the course of 2018. For more details see section 2 of this paper.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8209

Authors: Feargal McGuinness; Jennifer Brown; Andy Powell

Topics: Economic situation, Employment, Unemployment

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