18 Important UK Unemployment Statistics for 2020

Unemployment rate in the UK is officially defined as the percentage of the labour force that is currently without a job. The denominator is otherwise known as Labour Force. 

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In just three months in 2017, there were 33.4 million people in the UK working labour force, but 1.56 million of them were unemployed. This means that the official UK unemployment statistics at the time was 4.7%. 


UK unemployment rates that are consistent with this very definition are available starting from 1971. The highest recorded unemployment rate was 11.9% in 1984, the lowest being 3.4% in 1973. Data is not available before the year 1971, as the Labour Force Survey was not active before this time. 

So, if you want to know about the unemployment rate and how it has changed over the years, read on.

UK Unemployment Rate Facts and Stats (Editor’s Pick)

  • The unemployment rate fell to 3.8% in September 2019.
  • Between July and September 2019, 1.31 million people were unemployed.
  • In 2018, black people had the highest unemployment rate.
  •  In 2018, the unemployment rate for British Asians was higher for women.
  • In 2018, black people had the highest unemployment rate.

UK Unemployment Statistics 2018-2019

1. The UK unemployment rate fell to 3.8% in September 2019.

(Trading Economics) 

The unemployment rate in the United Kingdom fell to just below 4% in the three months leading to September 2019. This is the lowest level it’s been in over 45 years!

That’s huge! 

The people who were out of work declined to 1.306 million, dropping by 23,000 in total. The number of people who were employed at the time dropped by 58,000, bringing the total to 32.753 million. This shows the biggest decrease since the three months leading up to May 2015. Total pay growth also slowed to 3.6% which was at the time, below the forecast of 3.8%.

2. 4% of white people were unemployed in 2018.

(Ethnicity Facts and Figures Service)

UK unemployment statistics have shown that in the year 2018, 4% of white Brits were unemployed. This is compared to 7% of unemployed people combined from other ethnic groups.

3. In 2018, black people had the highest unemployment rate.

(Ethnicity Facts and Figures Service)

What is the unemployment rate for 2018?

Figures show that black people had the highest rate of unemployment in 2018. The rate was 9% compared to all other ethnic groups. In 2018, white people had the lowest unemployment rate (3%). The percentage shows that the natural rate of unemployment follows a similar trend to previous years. 

In England, Scotland, and Wales, unemployment UK statistics show that they were lower for white people than for other ethnic groups combined. The United Kingdom unemployment rate showed that the biggest difference was in Scotland. The statistics, however, reflect the unemployment UK figures as a whole.

4. Estimated unemployment rates for those 16 and over have been falling since 2013.

(Trading Economics)

According to unemployment facts, estimated unemployment rates for women and men aged 16 and over have been falling since the end of 2013. In 2018 and 2019, they have levelled off. The estimated UK unemployment figures were 3.8% in September 2019, and this was for all people. 


The latest unemployment facts and figures reveal that this is 0.2% lower compared to one year earlier, and 0.1% lower than the quarter before. The estimated statistics for men were 4.1%, which is 0.1% lower than one year before. It’s also 0.1% lower than the previous quarter. The estimated unemployment rate for women is 3.6%, which happens to be the lowest unemployment rate in joint terms. It’s down 0.4% on the year and it’s also down 0.1% in the quarter.

5. Between July and September 2019, 1.31 million people were unemployed.

(Trading Economics) 

What was unemployment rate in 2019?

When you look at the UK unemployment levels, you’ll soon see that between the months of July and September, 1.31 million people were unemployed. This is 72,000 fewer than a year before. It’s also  a whopping 656,000 fewer than five years earlier. The number of unemployed in UK terms has been steadily decreasing over the recent years, and various statistics show that positive movements are happening across the country.

6. In every ethnic group, the unemployment rate was Lower in 2018 compared to 2004.

(Ethnicity Facts and Figures Service)

In every ethnic group, unemployment levels UK statistics show that the unemployment rate was much lower in 2018 than in 2004. That being said, the unemployment rates for mixed ethnic groups, including Bangladeshi and Pakistani, were 5% lower in 2018 as well. This is compared to the statistics from 2004.

7. Estimated employment rates for men and women have been increasing, according to unemployment stats.

(Trading Economics) 

When you look at the unemployment rate UK 2019 stats, you will soon see that the estimated employment rates for both men and women aged between 16 and 64 have been increasing since 2012. They reached a record high at the start of 2019, coming to 76.1%. The rates have levelled off in the more recent periods. 

What’s more:

In September 2019, statistics show that the employment rate for the UK was estimated as being 76.0%, up by 0.5% when compared to the previous year. The employment rate for men is 80.3%, which is 0.5% higher than the previous quarter. The estimated number for women comes in at 71.8%, and it’s 0.8% higher than the previous year. 

And that’s not all:

When you look at the quarter however, you’ll see that it’s 0.3% down. The increase in employment for women is a result of the changes to the State Pension Age. Fewer women are now retiring between the ages of 60 and 65, not to mention that women now want to work longer out of choice. 

Key takeaway:

This astonishing statistic shows how the UK is changing as a whole and it is also indicative of a positive change throughout the UK workforce.

8. In 2018, the unemployment rate for British Asians was higher for women.

(Ethnicity Facts and Figures Service)

In the year 2018, the unemployment rate for Pakistani, Asian and Bangladeshi ethnic groups was much higher for women. The rate for women was 8% and 13%. This is nearly double the rate of men, which stood at 5% and 6%.

9. White women were far less likely to be unemployed when compared to other ethnic groups.

(Ethnicity Facts and Figures Service)

In 2018, white women were far less likely to be unemployed than women of every other ethnic group combined. The statistics for this stand at 4%, whereas others stand at 8%. 

This is double the amount, which shows once again how the UK workforce is changing. Even though women, according to last year’s statistics, are less likely to be unemployed than men, the stats have dropped in the last quarter.

10. White men are less likely to be unemployed when compared to other ethnic groups.

(Ethnicity Facts and Figures Service)

White male unemployment currently stands at 4%. This group is far less likely to be unemployed than men of all other ethnic groups combined. The other ethnic groups combined currently stand at 6% for the UK.

11. Estimates show that 32.75 million over 16s are in employment.

(Trading Economics) 

Estimates that have been done for 2019 show that in July and September, 32.75 million people who are aged 16 and over are in employment. This is 323,000 more when compared to a year before.

12. Women are responsible for the annual increase.

(Trading Economics) 

The annual increase is largely down to women, current unemployment stats suggest. The employment rate has been driven up to 226,000 on the year. And when you look at full-time workers, you will see that it’s up by 286,000 on the year. The latter has been recorded of reaching a high of over 24.21 million. There was a total decrease of 58,000 in employment. Again, this was driven by record decreases by women. Employment for women was down by 93,000 in 2018, and part-time workers were down by 164,000. However, this was offset because there was a 106,000 increase in full-time workers.

13. 16-24 year-olds are more likely to be unemployed.

(Ethnicity Facts and Figures Service)

Those who are aged between 16 and 24 are much more likely to be unemployed than any other age group. This is even the case when you look at whites and other ethnic groups combined.  

The thing is:

The facts on youth unemployment show that 11% of white people aged between 16 and 24 were unemployed in 2018. When you compare this to the unemployment and poverty statistics of other ethnic groups, you will see that this stands at 18%. Interestingly, this is the biggest gap out of any age group, as it stands at 7%. 

Additionally, among 25-49 year olds, those who come from the white ethnic group have a much lower unemployment rate, which stands at 3%. It’s interesting to see that the rate drops by nearly 75% when the age increases. Depression unemployment statistics could come into play here, affecting younger people who enter apprenticeships on low wages or who are simply unable to compete with those who have much more experienced positions. 

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People aged 25-49 from minority ethnic groups have a combined percentage rate of 6%. This is still nearly half of the rate given to white people who are aged between 16 and 24. Increasing the age again, looking at whites who are aged between 50 and 64, and you’ll find an unemployment rate of 3%. 

Other groups combined drops to 5%. Those whites who are over the age of 65, or the pension age, had an unemployment rate of 1%. When you look at other groups, you will see that the rate doesn’t drop any more. It still stands at 5%.

14. The economic inactivity rate has been falling since 1971.

(Trading Economics)

Comparable records began in the year 1971. When you look at the economic inactivity rate for everyone who is aged between 16 and 64, you will soon see that it’s been falling. During the periods of economic recession, it increased, but the bigger picture shows a steady decline. 


The main reason for this is because of the gradual fall in inactivity rates for women. For those who are aged between 16 and 64, the rate was 20.8% between July and September 2019. This is down by 0.3% on the year. It is, however, up 0.1% on the quarter. 

What’s more:

The estimated inactivity rate for men was 16.2%. This is also down, by a total of 0.1%, on the year as well as on the quarter. The estimated economic activity for women is down by 0.5% totalling 25.5%, up by 0.3% on the quarter but again, which shows a steady decline overall.

15. Those aged between 16 and 24 have the biggest difficulty getting a job.

(Trading Economics)

Current employment stats show that every year between 2004 and 2018, those who are white and aged between 16 and 24 had a much lower unemployment rate than every other ethnic group combined. UK youth unemployment rate facts reveal that younger people have a harder time getting on the employment ladder than those who are older. 

In fact:

2013 showed the biggest gap. White Brits aged between 16 and 24 had a 17% difference when compared to those of the same age in minority ethnic categories. By 2018, however, the gap fell to just 7%. The highest rate for unemployed youths, or those aged between 16 and 24 was 20% in 2012. The highest employment rate for white groups and all other ethnic groups combined came in at 35% in the year 2013. 

On the other hand:

By the year 2018, this fell to 18%, according to employment and unemployment statistics. Estimates for July to September 2019 show that people aged between 16 and 64 who are not in the labour force total 8.62 million. They are known as being economically inactive, and this figure is 110,000 lower than one year earlier. When you look at the true unemployment statistics from five years earlier, you will see that it’s 411,999 lower.

16. White people are less likely to be unemployed, with the Exception of East England, unemployment statistics by region reveal.

(Ethnicity Facts and Figures Service)

In almost every region in the UK, UK unemployment statistics show that white people are far less likely to be unemployed when compared to people from every other ethnic group combined. 

Interesting fact:

The exception here was for the east of England. The unemployment rate here was not very different among various ethnic groups. In contrast, Scotland has the biggest unemployment gap. For whites, it’s 4% and the other ethnic groups come in at 11%, which is quite a big gap.

17. The rate of pay grew in 2017.

(Trading Economics)

The rate of growth in terms of pay has been trended upwards between March and May 2017. It reached 3.9% between May and July 2017. This is the highest nominal pay growth since the year 2008. When you look at July to September in 2019, you will see that growth actually dropped to 3.6% for regular pay and total pay. In other words, annual pay growth has been positive since the December 2017.

18. Unemployment is higher for 16-24 year-olds in London.

(Trust for London)

Statistics show the London unemployment rate is much higher for those who are aged between 16 and 24 when compared to older adults in the capital. 

The same applies to the rest of England. 9.4% of young adults who are in London are unemployed. When you compare the figures, you will find that 3.6% of 25-64 year olds are unemployed. 

This is huge:

The number of unemployed young adults has fallen very quickly since 2013. London has come down from a peak of 13.9%. Unemployment figures for young adults who live in London are higher than the rest of England by 1.1%. That being said, the difference is not as big as it once was. 

In the last 20 years, there have been large increases in employment rates, and this is especially the case when you look at those who are aged between 16 and 64.

UK unemployment Statistic-rates


Unemployment statistics are important, as they give everyone a better understanding of the UK and how business growth opens up new job opportunities. They’re also a vital tool that gives everyone a better chance to understand the economy and how things have changed over recent years. 

Of course: 

It’s important to understand that as things change, this has an impact on unemployment and governmental policies as well as on depression levels. Those who are unemployed or those who are not given the proper support during unemployment have a higher chance of developing depression. 

Bottom line: 

Employment rates in the UK have changed drastically over the years and improved considerably, the latest UK unemployment statistics reveal. Women in particular are a driving force. More people from minority ethnic groups are now also in employment than ever before. 

In the final analysis, this goes to show how much the entire economy relies on every sector as a whole.