United Kingdom

Wanting paid work

Key points

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Graph 1: Over time (numbers)

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Graph 2: Over time (proportions)

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Graph 3: By region

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Map

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Download a spreadsheet with the district-level statistics

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Graph 4: By age and sex

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Graph 5: By reason

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Why this indicator was originally chosen

This indicator recognises that it is not sufficient to look only at those officially unemployed since they are actually a minority of working age adults who would like to have a job.  A large section of adults who are officially described as 'economically inactive' rather than unemployed would also like to work, and may even be actively seeking to find a job.  The balance between the unemployed and the economically inactive has recently been changing, with falling numbers of unemployed and stable or rising levels of economic inactivity.  The indicator therefore shows both the unemployed and the economically inactive who would like work.

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Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the number of people aged 16 to retirement lacking but wanting paid work.  It is divided between the long-term unemployed, the short-term unemployed, and those counted as 'economically inactive' who nevertheless want paid work.  The data shown goes back to 1993 as 1993 was when unemployment was at its peak in the recession of the early 1990s.

Given the current interest in the topic due to the recession, the supplementary graph shows the same data but by quarter rather than by year.

'Unemployment' is the ILO definition, which is used for the official unemployment numbers.  It comprises all those with no paid work in the survey week who were available to start work in the next fortnight and who either looked for work in the last month or were waiting to start a job already obtained.

The 'economically inactive who want paid work' includes people not available to start work for some time and those not actively seeking work.  The data is based on a question in LFS asking the economically inactive whether they would like paid work or not.

The second graph shows the same data but as a percentage of the population aged 16 to retirement.

The third graph shows how the proportion of the population aged 16 to retirement who lack, but want, paid work varies by region, with the proportions who are unemployed and economically inactive but wanting paid work shown separately.

The fourth graph shows how the proportions of people who are either unemployed or economically inactive but wanting paid work vary by age and sex.

The fifth graph shows the shares of those aged 16 to retirement who want paid work by reason for their lack of work.

The data source for all the graphs is the Labour Force Survey (LFS).  The data relates to the United Kingdom and is not seasonally adjusted.  To improve its statistical reliability, the figures for each year are the average for the four quarters of the relevant year and the data in the third, fourth and fifth graphs is the average for the latest three years.

The map shows how the proportion of the population aged 16 to retirement who lack, but want, paid work varies by local authority.  The data is the average for 2004 to 2006.

The data source for the map is the Annual Population Survey.  This is effectively LFS with selected booster samples to compensate for small sample sizes in some authorities.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  The LFS is a well-established, quarterly government survey designed to be representative of the population as a whole.

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External links

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Relevant 2007 Public Service Agreements

Overall aim:  Maximise employment opportunity for all.

Lead department

Department for Work and Pensions.

Official national targets

None.

Other indicators of progress

Overall employment rate taking account of the economic cycle.

Narrow the gap between the employment rates of the following disadvantaged groups and the overall rate: disabled people; lone parents; ethnic minorities; people aged 50 and over; those with no qualifications; and those living in the most deprived Local Authority wards.

Number of people on working age out-of-work benefits.

Amount of time people spend on out-of-work benefits.

Previous 2004 targets

As part of the wider objective of full employment in every region, over the three years to Spring 2008, and taking account of the economic cycle, demonstrate progress on increasing the employment rate.

As part of the wider objective of full employment in every region, over the three years to Spring 2008, and taking account of the economic cycle:

As a contribution to reducing the proportion of children living in households where no-one is working by 2008:

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The numbers

Graphs 1 and 2

Year Unemployed (ILO definition) for more than a year Unemployed (ILO definition) for less than a year 'Economically inactive' who want work
19931,230K (3.5%) 1,680K (4.8%) 2,150K (6.2%)
19941,150K (3.3%) 1,500K (4.3%) 2,260K (6.5%)
19951,010K (2.9%) 1,400K (4.0%) 2,240K (6.4%)
1996890K (2.5%) 1,390K (4.0%) 2,320K (6.6%)
1997 700K (2.0%) 1,270K (3.6%) 2,370K (6.7%)
1998 530K (1.5%) 1,240K (3.5%) 2,350K (6.6%)
1999 480K (1.3%) 1,220K (3.4%) 2,260K (6.4%)
2000 420K (1.1%) 1,150K (3.3%) 2,280K (6.4%)
2001 360K (0.9%) 1,100K (3.2%) 2,220K (6.2%)
2002 320K (0.8%) 1,180K (3.3%) 2,250K (6.2%)
2003 310K (0.8%) 1,150K (3.2%) 2,130K (5.9%)
2004 280K (0.7%) 1,110K (3.1%) 2,030K (5.6%)
2005 290K (0.7%) 1,100K (3.1%) 2,000K (5.5%)
2006 350K (1.0%) 1,240K (3.4%) 2,040K (5.6%)
2007370K (1.0%) 1,210K (3.3%) 2,060K (5.6%)
2008420K (1.1%) 1,340K (3.5%) 2,140K (5.7%)
2009570K (1.5%) 1,790K (4.7%) 2,200K (5.8%)
2010790K (2.1%) 1,650K (4.3%) 2,230K (6.0%)

Graph 3

Region Unemployed (ILO definition) 'Economically inactive' who want work Total
East 5.0% 5.4% 10.4%
East Midlands 5.7% 5.3% 11.0%
North East 6.9% 6.8% 13.7%
North West 6.2% 6.5% 12.7%
Northern Ireland 4.5% 4.0% 8.5%
London 6.5% 6.4% 13.0%
Scotland 5.5% 5.9% 11.4%
South East 4.7% 5.5% 10.2%
South West 4.6% 5.2% 9.8%
Wales 6.1% 6.7% 12.7%
West Midlands 6.9% 5.5% 12.4%
Yorkshire and the Humber 6.5% 6.0% 12.4%

Graph 4

Gender Age group Unemployed (ILO definition) 'Economically inactive' who want work
Men 25-34 6.8% 2.8%
35-49 4.7% 3.4%
50-retirement 4.0% 5.7%
Women 25-34 4.7% 6.7%
35-49 3.6% 6.1%
50-retirement 2.4% 5.5%

Graph 5

Thousands
Unemployed 2,200K
Long-term sick or disabled 700K
Looking after family/home 600K
Student500K
Other 500K

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