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Employment in the United Kingdom - Statistics & Facts

At the start of 2022, the employment rate of the United Kingdom reached one of its highest ever levels, with 75.6 percent of the working-age population in some form of paid work. This meant that as of this month there were approximately 32.5 million people working in the United Kingdom. In general, the UK labor market has been in good health ever since the unemployment rate peaked at 8.5 percent in late 2011, following the global financial crisis of 2008. Even as economic growth slowed down from 2015 onwards, and Brexit introduced a degree of economic uncertainty to the UK, the country's labor market continued to improve. While the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 reversed these positive trends, the damage caused appears to have been temporary, with the most recent forecasts from the UK government anticipating unemployment to remain at low levels of around four to 4.2 percent until at least 2026.

Characteristics of UK workers

The vast majority of the UK's workforce are employed in the private sector, which employs almost 26.8 million people, compared with the public sector which has a workforce of approximately 5.7 million people. Within the UK private sector, the industry which employs the most people is wholesale and retail trade, at almost five million people. The National Health Service (NHS) is the largest employer in the public sector at over 1.86 million, and also the UK's single biggest employer overall. Although working patterns have become a lot more flexible in recent years, most people in the UK are still working full-time rather than part-time. Another significant development in the labor force, is the increasing number of self-employed workers which reached over five million in January 2020, before falling to around 4.2 million by the Summer of 2021. The share of people who work from home jumped to 17.4 percent in 2020, and is likely to increase further in coming years, as businesses and employers adapt to the possibilities of a more remote workforce.

Hours and earnings

Full-time workers in the United Kingdom had an average annual salary of 31,285 British pounds, with annual earnings for men being 33,414 pounds, and for women 28,305 pounds. While the gender pay gap has been declining in recent years, there is evidently more work to be done to ensure men and women are afforded the same financial opportunities in the future. Other differences in pay exist between regions, with Londoners earning around 12,201 pounds a year more than workers in North East England, while there are also significant differences in what people of different ethnicities earn an hour. Overall, the UK workforce collectively worked more than a billion hours a week in January 2022, with this figure at just 841 million in June 2020, which was the fewest cumulative hours worked since 1994 and a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 37 most important statistics relating to "Employment in the UK".


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