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Latest UK labour market statistics from ONS – time for a re-think?

by on June 23, 2017

The Office for National Statistics produces a monthly report on the UK labour market. Each time I see it I wonder why it records and reports on the work-related activities and status of people ‘aged from 16 to 64’ when we live in a country which has abolished mandatory retirement and state pension ages are steadily rising. Time for a re-think at the ONS?

The headlines for the June bulletin are that:

  • the number of people in work increased;
  • the number of unemployed people fell; and
  • the number of people aged from 16 to 64 not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) also fell.

In terms of trends regarding longer working lives, there was an increase of 60,000 people from last year (up to 1.20 million) who were not looking for work because they had retired. I guess one explanation is that people out of work might choose to self-classify as ‘retired’ rather than as ‘jobseeker’. But the longer term trend is still towards working longer into later life. The figure of 1.20 million is 358,000 fewer compared with the same period in 2011.  The ONS attribute this to the ongoing changes to state pension age for women which has resulted in fewer women now retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.

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