Office for National Statistics data shows UK unemployment rate rose to 3.9% in January - March quarter

Figures released by Office for National Statistics show that unemployment rates rose in the January-March quarter.

The unemployment rate in the UK has risen as companies continue to lay off workers and the jobs market declines. The news comes as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) releases the latest employment figures.

The new data from ONS shows that the UK’s jobless rate rose to 3.9% in the January-March quarter - it was at 3.8% a month earlier.

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Data also shows that firms have cut their payrolls by 136,000 in April to 29.8 million. The statistics  show that this is the first fall in total employees since the beginning of 2021. The ONS said on Twitter: “The number of employees on the payroll fell by 136,000 in April 2023, its first fall since February 2021.  It is now 838,000 above its pre #COVID19 pandemic level.”

The data indicates that the economy has lost momentum with high interest rates weighing on demand. The ONS report  also concludes  that the number of vacancies fell by 55,000 in the quarter to 1,083,000 in February-April. Another indication of a weakening labour market.

However, there has also been a notable move of people back into the labour market with people either finding work, or looking for it. This has pulled the UK’s economic inactivity rate down by 0.4 percentage points on the quarter, to 21.0% in January to March.

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The ONS said: “The decrease in economic inactivity during the latest three-month period was largely driven by people aged 16 to 24 years. Looking at economic inactivity by reason, the quarterly decrease was largely driven by those inactive because they are students or inactive for other reasons. Flows estimates show that, between October to December 2022 and January to March 2023, there has been a record high net flow out of economic inactivity. This was driven by people moving from economic inactivity to employment.”

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