United Kingdom – Number of temporary workers up 1.7%, employment rate still below pre-pandemic levels


May 18, 2021

The number of temporary employees in the UK increased by 1.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis to a total of around 1.53 million for the three-month period January 2021 to March 2021 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the bureau. for national statistics.

In January 2021, the UK entered a nationwide lockdown that continued throughout March 2021.

Compared to the previous quarter ended in February 2021, the number of temporary workers decreased by 0.5%.

Temporary workers are self-identified when interviewed by the ONS, and they include those on fixed-term contracts, agency workers, casual workers, seasonal workers, and other temporary workers.

The number of temporary employees as a percentage of total employment was 5.5%, down from 5.4% from a year ago.

Of the 1.53 million temporary employees during the period ended March 2021, approximately 496,819 were temporary because they could not find permanent employment; 340,678 did not want a permanent job; 110,012 had a contract with a training period; and 585,613 cited other reasons.

Of the 1.54 million temporary employees during the period, approximately 716,160 were men while 816,961 were women.

The ONS also released other labor market figures from January 2021 to March 2021, which showed the UK employment rate was estimated at 75.2%, 1.4% lower than before. pandemic (December 2019 to February 2020) but 0.2% more than in the previous quarter.

For the three months ending March 2021, the UK’s highest employment rate estimate was in the South East (78.5%) and the lowest in Northern Ireland (69.1% ).

The unemployment rate in the UK was estimated at 4.8%, 0.8% higher than between December 2019 and February 2020 but 0.3% lower than the previous quarter. For the three months ending March 2021, the UK’s highest unemployment rate estimate was in London (6.8%) and the lowest was in the South East (3.4%).

The economic inactivity rate in the UK was estimated at 21.0%, 0.8% higher than between December 2019 and February 2020 and 0.1% higher than the previous quarter.

From February 2021 to April 2021, the estimated number of job vacancies reached its highest level since January 2020 to March 2020 (which is a pre-pandemic coronavirus period), with growth resuming in the most recent quarterly estimates.

From February 2021 to April 2021, there were approximately 657,000 vacant positions, representing a growth of 8.0% (48,400) from the previous quarter,

ONS Director of Economic Statistics Darren Morgan said: “” The renewed lockdown in early 2021 saw a sharp increase in the number of previously unemployed people no longer looking for work, helping the unemployment rate to drop. over the quarter. This mirrored what happened during the first lockdown. “

The Director General of the Confederation of Recruitment and Employment (REC), Neil Carberry, said: “Today’s figures show that the labor market remained very resilient during the last lockdown, and even show the the beginnings of a resumption of hiring as suggested by business surveys. It is not surprising to see a drop in the total number of hours worked when the restrictions were most severe. The fact that the number of salaried employees increased in January-March alongside the overall employment rate is also a positive sign. With the announcement of an easing of the lockdown in February and restrictions starting to lift in March, business confidence has risen, and we can see this in the growing number of vacancies, especially in industries like hotel.

“The challenge for all of us in the coming months will be to help people find the new jobs that are being created,” Carberry continued. “It was good to see some action to improve the skills system in the Queen’s Speech, but more can and must be done. Clearly the apprenticeship tax is not working effectively – expanding it to a more flexible skills tax that all workers can use to access training would be a real boost and testify to the upgrading program. at government level.

Mariano Mamertino, Senior Economist, EMEA at LinkedIn, said: “Today’s ONS data is another example of the resilience of the UK labor market. While unemployment is still likely to rise in the coming months, especially as the leave schedule unfolds, it increasingly looks like the peak will be at a much lower level than expected. “

“These latest figures suggest that the UK labor market has stabilized in recent months, despite foreclosure restrictions, which is positive news for people and businesses across the country. However, it will take longer to return to pre-pandemic employment levels and bring people who have been sidelined over the past year back into the workforce, ”Mamertino added.


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