37 Good-to-Know UK Employment Statistics in 2023

Labour resources are what keep every country running. According to the employment statistics, the rates of consumer spending go up as employee earnings increase. This benefits the economy and allows more businesses to be launched and stay operational.

Every country has its own labour market that, in a way, differs from the rest of the world. Today you’ll read more about the UK labour market trends. The pandemic hit hard, and the UK economy is yet another to feel its blow.

A whopping 3.82 million jobs were on furlough as of December 31, 2020. However, employers hope that things will change for the better in the next 12 months. Until then, working people are focused on finding jobs based on location rather than a job description.

UK Employment Rate (Editor’s Choice)

  • The average salary in the UK in the 19th century was £34.9.
  • According to the employment statistics, 31.68 million people were employed in February 2020.
  • As of 31 December 2020, 3.82 million jobs were on furlough.
  • The unemployment rate is higher for people aged 16 to 24 years than older generations.
  • 49% of employers expect hiring to return to pre-pandemic rates in the next 12 months.
  • 28% of people would take any job in a specific location.
  • About 16% of employed in the UK are foreigners.
  • Women account for 77% of the workforce that’s at high risk of coronavirus exposure.
UK Employment Statistics-jobs

Historical Employment Statistics in the UK

Salaries and the number of employees in the UK have changed drastically over time, starting from the low-paid male-centred workforce in the 19th century to today when women play a significant role in the ONS labour market statistics.

1. The average salary in the UK in the 19th century was £34.9.

(Measuringworth, The National Archives)

According to the employment statistics in the UK, the average income per head in 1874 was £34.9, which was higher than anywhere else. The UK was a wealthy country, but the wealth was unevenly distributed, with half of the nation’s income going to one-ninth of the population.

2. The General Strike of 1926 was the most important labour dispute in the 20th century.


During the 19th century, miners were essential workers in the UK. However, in June 1925, mine-owners announced a wage cut and increased hours. The Trade Union Congress offered to support miners, but the negotiations failed. The General Strike began on 3 May 1926, with 800,000 coal miners stopping their work.

Soon, 1.7 million workers showed support. Even though this was the most significant labour dispute, the miners were starved back to work after only three months.

3. The highest rates of employment were in 1872, 1943, and 2018.


According to the employment rate in the UK observed from 1861 to 2018, the highest rate of 76% happened in 1872, 1943, and 2018. The lowest one was 61% during the Great Depression.

4. Late 18th and early 19th century and industrialisation changed gender roles.


Industrialisation created more opportunities for both genders. Employees also started receiving wages per person rather than the whole household. New technologies brought changes and stamina wasn’t the main factor in production anymore, allowing women to work in various industries.

UK employment welcomed women, but they had to accept the sexual division of labour.

5. Many aspects of legislation changed during the 19th and 20th century, affecting the labour market.


The essential change that occurred during the 19the century was related to educational policies and the legalisation of trade unions. The early 20th century marked the beginning of a welfare state, and the UK labour market expanded as the economy thrived.

Current Employment Statistics

Recent rates of employment are heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of jobs are on furlough, and the job retention scheme is helping thousands of employers retain their workers.

6. The employment figures in the UK peaked again in January and February 2020.


According to recently measured employment rates in the UK, the number of employed people was the highest in January 2020, right before the pandemic, with 31.6 million people working.

The coronavirus outbreak changed the current employment levels in the UK. COVID-19 decreased the record number of employed people in the UK by at least 500,000 workers.

7. As of 31 December 2020, 3.82 million jobs were on furlough.


Coronavirus drastically changed UK employment data. However, this number was still lower than 8.8 million jobs on furlough in May 2020. The lockdown in spring damaged the hospitality industry the most.

8. The UK government has spent £46.6 billion on a job retention scheme during the pandemic.

(Statista, ACAS)

Employers had the option of claiming wages through the retention scheme and have the UK government pay 80% of employees’ salaries. That way, the UK labour force was able to retain jobs amidst the pandemic.

UK Unemployment Rate

Coronavirus interrupted one of the brightest employment moments in the UK. Younger working generations have more difficulty keeping their jobs than older generations.

9. The highest rate of unemployment for men and women was in August 2020.


The number of unemployed in the UK in August 2020 was 5.4% for males and 4.7% for female workers, which is the highest rate of unemployment since September 2015 for men and October 2016 for women.

10. The rate of unemployment is higher for people aged 16 to 24 years than older generations.


According to the unemployment statistics, younger generations have difficulty keeping their jobs in the UK. In the three months to December 2020, the rate of unemployment was about 14% for people aged 16–24 years and only 2.5% for workers over 65.

One of the main reasons for such a high rate is the lack of work experience in younger employees, which employers find off-putting.

11. As of December 31, 2020, 862,700 workers aged between 25 and 34 years applied for the job retention scheme.


The coronavirus pandemic caused an increase in the United Kingdom unemployment rate, but the UK government did its best to help. The job retention scheme was designed to help employers pay £2,500 per month to employees on furlough.

UK Employment Statistics-work

The UK Job Market of Today

The general sentiment is that the labour market will recover in the following 12 months. At the moment, based on the largest job platform in the UK, it’s noticeable that people would rather focus on job location than the job itself.

12. 49% of employers expect hiring to return to pre-pandemic rates in the next 12 months.

(The Guardian)

The grip of the pandemic is slowly loosening, and the future looks brighter. Key sectors like finance and business are picking up. 49% of employers hope that the hiring and employment rates will go back to normal in the following year.

13. Middlesbrough has the highest competition of 3.3 CVs per job opening.


Competition for job openings varies across the UK. The most famous UK platform, Indeed, gathered data on the job market. The results show that competition is the strongest in Middlesbrough, Sunderland, and Luton, with 3.3, 2.6, and 2.1 local CVs per job opening, respectively.

14. 28% of people would take any job in a specific location.


Another thing that’s changed with the pandemic is that people would rather focus on the location than the job description. The number of people who specified the location, but left the “what” box blank on Indeed rose to 28% in August 2020.

15. Low-wage job postings have dropped by 72% during the pandemic.

(Hiring Lab)

Employment trends show that the low-wage job openings like hairdressers, waiters and waitresses, and bar staff have dropped the most during the pandemic. The 72% decrease is understandable since coronavirus dealt a blow to industries like hospitality and retail.

16. There were 2.94 million self-employed men in the UK from September to November 2020.


Self-employment statistics show that the number of self-employed men is twice as high as self-employed women. There were 2.94 million self-employed men and 1.58 million self-employed women from September to November 2020.

Immigrant Employment Statistics for the UK

Migrants account for about 16% of the employed workforce in the UK. Migrant men are more likely to be employed than natives, and those born in India are highly skilled in IT and communications.

17. About 16% of employed in the UK are foreigners.

(The Migration Observatory)

In the third quarter of 2020, 16% of people born abroad worked in the UK, according to the latest UK employment statistics. The number of immigrants in the UK is rising but also varies due to the pandemic.

18. Migrant men are more likely to become employed than UK-born men.

(The Migration Observatory)

In 2019, the employment rate of migrant men aged 16 to 64 years was 5% higher than the employment rate of UK-born men. As UK labour market statistics show, migrant women are less likely to be employed than UK-born women, except for EU-born female employees.

19. Workers from India, Southeast Asia, and EU-14 countries are more likely to be high-skilled.

(The Migration Observatory)

When it comes to educational credentials, people born in India, Southeast Asia, and EU-14 countries are more likely to have high-skilled occupations than natives. This is especially true for 45% of Indian workers who are IT and communications specialists.

Based on the employment figures in the UK, 42% of people born in EU-14 countries also fall into the category of highly skilled workers.

20. 144,938 work visas were recently granted to foreigners.


The number of employees coming from abroad to the UK decreased in June 2020. It was 22% lower than the previous year, with 144,938 work-related visas. These numbers were affected by the pandemic.


According to employment in the UK statistics, 144,938 work-related visas were issued in the year ending June 2020. Tier 2 or Skilled work visas accounted for 60% of the total number. However, due to COVID-19, the percentage dropped by 20%.

Female Employment Statistics for the UK

The number of females in the UK workforce has increased drastically and is currently at 72.7%. Unfortunately, women are at higher risk of coronavirus exposure.

22. The labour market participation of women reached a record high in 2018 with 74.2%.


Slowly but surely, women managed to find their place in the workforce. This progress was driven by changes in social norms, employment legislation, and workforce structure in the UK.

23. 72.7% of females aged 16 to 64 years are employed.


Since June 2020, there are 72.7% of females aged 16 to 64 years in the UK workforce. That marks a 19.9% increase since 1971 when the ONS started recording data on the employment rate in the UK.

24. Women account for 77% of the workforce that’s at high risk of coronavirus exposure.


Six out of 10 essential workers are women, and they are at high risk of getting infected. What’s even worse is that 1.2 million women don’t have sick pay eligibility.

25. The top three UK regions for female empowerment are South West, Northern Ireland, and Wales.


South West, Northern Ireland, and Wales offer the most opportunities to female employees, while London and West Midlands have the lowest female employment levels. London specifically dropped so low because of the gender pay gap and gender labour participation gap.

UK Employment Statistics-occupation

Graduate Employment Statistics

Graduating in the UK pays off since more graduates land high-skilled jobs than non-graduates. They also land full-time employment, and the pay band for older graduates is close to the UK’s average wage.

26. 90% of graduates are in some form of work or continued study.


When it comes to graduates’ activities, 90% are working, and the remaining 10% are unemployed, retired, or doing other activities. According to data on employment in the UK, 59% of respondents who qualified from HEPs got full-time jobs. In comparison, those who qualified from FECs accounted for 48% of respondents with full-time jobs.

27. Dentistry has the highest employment rate of 99.4%.


Graduate employment statistics by a subject show that medicine and dentistry have the highest employment rate of 99.4% after six months of graduating. Other highly-employable programmes are veterinary science, allied medicine subjects, education, architecture, law, and biological sciences.

28. The £24,000–£26,999 pay band has the highest number of graduates in full-time positions.


Of all graduates who participated in the survey, most respondents younger than 20 earned £18,000 to £20,999. On the other hand, 21 to 24-year-olds earned between £24,000 and £26,999. Graduates over 25 earned £39,000. For comparison, the average wage in the UK today is £38,600 for a full-time position.

29. 40% of graduates work in public administration, education, and healthcare.


According to the last available ONS employment statistics, there was a steady increase in graduates in the past decade. Graduates were also more likely to be employed than non-graduates. Graduates have higher chances of working in high-skilled areas, such as public administration, education, and healthcare, than non-graduates.

Disability Employment Statistics

People with disabilities should be included in society, and the recent growth in employment of disabled people shows that the UK market is ready to give a chance to anyone who wants to work.

30. 19% of the working-age population has a disability.

(Research Briefings)

As employment statistics show, 7.7 million people reported some form of disability, which is 19% of the working-age population. Of 7.7 million, 4.1 are currently employed. However, disabled people are more likely to be economically inactive.

31. 288,000 disabled people are unemployed.

(Research Briefings)

Disabled people’s rate of unemployment is 6.5%, compared to 3.5% of people who are not disabled. The employment rate of disabled people is also 28.1% lower than those who aren’t disabled.

32. The number of disabled people in employment rose by 43%.

(Research Briefings)

The UK employment rate shows that the number of employed disabled people grew by 1.25 million between 2013 and 2020. During the same time, the number of employees who were not disabled grew by 1.53 million. This shows that close to half of the growth came from the disabled workforce.

UK Employment Statistics by Occupation

Even though coronavirus affected many industries globally and in the UK, wholesale and retail remained the most profitable sectors. Tourism is still a massive part of the UK economy, and the country wants to invest in it in the following years.

33. The wholesale and retail sector employs 5 million people in the UK.


When it comes to UK employment by sector, wholesale and retail seem to have the highest number of workers. About 5 million people are employed in these two industries. The administrative and support service activities sector is the second-largest employer with 3.1 million employees.

34. 142,000 construction jobs were shed in March 2020.

(Construction News)

As construction employment statistics in the UK show, hospitality isn’t the only sector affected by the pandemic. Construction employment dropped to the lowest levels since 2013. There were 2.17 million employees in the construction industry in 2020, and the decline continued with the pandemic outbreak.

35. The tourism industry has generated 1.6 million jobs so far.


Tourism employment statistics show that tourism plays a significant role in the UK economy. With the number of jobs created reaching 1.6 million and 9 million visitors projected to arrive by 2025, it’s evident that the UK will continue promoting the country. With the vaccine becoming available, these campaigns could be a success.

36. There was a 3.1% increase in employees in the food and accommodation services industry.


As the UK employment by industry shows, there has been an increase in employees in the food and accommodation services industries in recent years. Another significant increase of 2.6% happened in the professional, scientific, and technical industries. On the other hand, automation could replace 1.5 million jobs in the manufacturing sector.

37. 21% of UK employees have professional jobs.


Based on occupational employment statistics, professional jobs, such as teachers, doctors, accountants, and lawyers, are the most common occupations, accounting for more than one-fifth of all occupations in the UK.

37 Good-to-Know UK Employment Statistics in 2021


The UK workforce suffered many changes throughout history, and coronavirus is one of them. The pandemic forced millions of people to go on furlough. This changed the employment statistics of the UK.

Before the pandemic, there was a noticeable influx of foreign workers who received work visas and came to enjoy working in high-skilled occupations in the UK.

Today, younger generations have a hard time keeping their jobs, but many are optimistic about what the future holds. The UK government is working hard on helping the economy and those in need.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many people are employed in the UK?

The number of employed in the UK varies. The UK employment rates were the highest in January 2020, with 31.6 million employed people. There was a record level of employed people in the UK, but the COVID-19 brought a decrease of at least 500,000 workers on the market.

What are the employment statistics?

Employment statistics are defined as a measure of the extent to which the workforce is being used. There were 31.68 million people employed in February 2020. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic changed the rates of employment. Before the outbreak, there was a record-high number of employed people in the UK. As of December 31st 2020, 3.82 million jobs were on furlough.

What is the current unemployment rate in the UK in 2020?

According to ONS, the UK rate of unemployment is 4.5%, which is 0.6% higher than in 2019. It remains to be seen to which extent will coronavirus affect the economy and the UK unemployment rates in the future.

What is the percentage of employment?

The recent UK-related employment statistics and rates are estimated at 75.6%, which is 0.3% lower than in 2019. Still, the numbers started decreasing with the spread of the virus, according to the latest employment statistics.


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