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United Kingdom Unemployment

United Kingdom Unemployment

Unemployment in United Kingdom

The United Kingdom's labor market from 2013 to 2022 showed resilience. The unemployment rate steadily declined early in the decade, reaching historic lows by 2019. However, Brexit uncertainties and the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions, leading to a temporary spike in unemployment. By 2022, the job market had largely recovered, with unemployment rates back below pre-pandemic levels, although challenges such as labor shortages in specific sectors persisted.

The unemployment rate in the United Kingdom averaged 4.9% in the decade to 2022, below the 6.3% average for major economies. The unemployment rate in 2022 was 3.7%. For more unemployment information, visit our dedicated page.

United Kingdom Unemployment Chart

Note: This chart displays Unemployment Rate for United Kingdom from 2014 to 2023.
Source: UK Office for National Statistics.

United Kingdom Unemployment Data

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unemployment (% of active population, aop) 4.2 3.9 4.7 4.6 3.9
Unemployment (% of active population, rolling qt) 4.1 3.9 5.3 4.2 3.9

Labor market softens slightly heading into Q2

According to the statistical office, vacancy numbers declined in the three months to April for the 22th consecutive three-month period, but were still above pre-pandemic levels. In addition, employment fell for the third straight month in April, while the unemployment rate rose to 4.3% in January–March, the highest rate since last July. More positively, at 5.9% year on year in March, wage growth continued to outpace inflation, pointing to improving consumer purchasing power.

Our Consensus is for the unemployment rate to remain close to its current level in the coming quarters, staying below the G7 average.

Providing a caveat to the latest data, ING’s James Smith said: “The UK jobs market is cooling […] [But] it’s worth remembering from the outset that the headline jobs figures – employment, unemployment and inactivity – are still believed to be pretty unreliable, owing to an ongoing fall in the survey’s response rate. The unemployment rate notched up to 4.3%, but it’s hard to say how much weight we should really be putting on that (potentially not a lot).”

Consensus Forecasts and Projections for the next ten years

How should you choose a forecaster if some are too optimistic while others are too pessimistic? FocusEconomics collects British unemployment projections for the next ten years from a panel of 35 analysts at the leading national, regional and global forecast institutions. These projections are then validated by our in-house team of economists and data analysts and averaged to provide one Consensus Forecast you can rely on for each indicator. By averaging all forecasts, upside and downside forecasting errors tend to cancel each other out, leading to the most reliable unemployment forecast available for British unemployment.

Download one of our sample reports to visualize what a Consensus Forecast is and see our British unemployment projections.

Want to get access to the full dataset of British unemployment forecasts? Send an email to

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