Unemployment in the United Kingdom - Statistics & Facts

The unemployment rate in the United Kingdom fell to just 3.8 percent in 2019, the lowest rate of unemployment recorded since 1974. Overall, this meant that there were approximately 1.31 million people that were unemployed in 2019, almost half the number that were out of work in 2011, following the global financial crisis. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic that hit the United Kingdom in early 2020, it is forecast that unemployment will reach ten percent in the second quarter of 2020.

Age is an important factor in the unemployment rate. Among those that were aged between 16 and 24, the unemployment rate in 2019 was 11.4 percent, while for older age groups, the unemployment rate was below the national average. When youth unemployment is broken down further, those aged 16 to 17 had an even higher unemployment rate than those aged 18 to 24, at 20.5 percent, compared with 10.4 percent. The high rate of unemployment seen among young people can be attributed to the fact that many will have just left compulsory education and be entering the workforce for the very first time. Young people will also lack the work experience that older age groups have, and therefore find it harder to get a job.

When looking at the gender of those that are unemployed, men have consistently had higher rate of unemployment rate than women since 2000, with the unemployment rate for both genders peaking in 2011. In that year there were almost 1.5 million men and 1.1 million women unemployed compared with approximately 720 thousand men and 586 thousand women in 2019.

While there is often the perception that many of the UK's 1.31 million unemployed people are long-term unemployed, the majority have only been out of work for six months or less, with just 322 thousand unemployed for more than a year. Again, this is a significant decrease when compared with the period following the financial crisis of 2008, when over 800 thousand people were long-term unemployed between 2010 and 2013.

Finally, unemployment is not something which is evenly distributed across the country, with the regional unemployment rate of the United Kingdom varying from 5.4 percent in the North East of England to just 2.4 percent in the South West. In London, the UK capital, the unemployment rate was just above the national average at 4.4 percent, with London's unemployment rate also peaking in 2011 at 9.9 percent.

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Unemployment in the UK

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Unemployment by age

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