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People claiming unemployment benefits by constituency, September 2018

Published Tuesday, October 16, 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. The unemployment rate of 4.0% in June-August 2018 was the joint lowest rate since 1975. Despite falling slightly from the last quarter, the employment rate remains at a very high level historically while the inactivity rate remains at a very low level. The growth in average weekly pay excluding bonuses (not adjusting for inflation) was the highest since January 2009. Despite this, after adjusting for inflation, earnings remain below levels seen before the 2008 downturn.

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Key figures

  • The UK unemployment rate was 4.0% in June-August 2018, its joint lowest level since 1975. The ILO measure of unemployment was 1.36 million people, 47,000 fewer than the previous quarter and 79,000 fewer than the year before.
  • The number of people in employment was 32.39 million, little changed from the previous quarter but 289,000 more than the year before. The employment rate was 75.5%.
  • 8.75 million people aged 16-64 were economically inactive, up 103,000 from the previous quarter but down 65,000 from a year ago. The inactivity rate was 21.2%.
  • Average weekly pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 3.1% excluding bonuses in the three months to August 2018 compared with the previous year. Average weekly pay including bonuses increased by 2.7%.
  • CPI inflation averaged 2.5% over this period, meaning that average earnings both including and excluding bonuses grew faster than prices.

Universal Credit and the claimant count

The claimant count figures provided in this paper 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. So changes in claimant numbers may be a consequence of the Universal Credit rollout rather than changes in economic conditions.

The effect is most visible in areas operating Universal Credit "Full Service”, where rollout of Universal Credit is more advanced: in these areas, there tends to have been a sharp increase in the claimant count over the past year.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8417

Authors: Feargal McGuinness; Andy Powell; Olivia Phelan; Matthew Ward

Topics: Economic situation, Employment, Unemployment

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