According to the report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), from November 2022 to January 2023, the unemployment rate remained at 3.7%, close to its lowest level in almost 50 years. It remained also 0.3% below pre-pandemic levels. Economists had expected unemployment to rise to 3.8%. The level of economic inactivity decreased by 0.2%, to 21.3%. The decrease was driven by people aged 16 to 24 years. Meanwhile, the employment rate increased by 0.1%, to 75.7%, which was due to an increase in the number of part-time employees and self-employed workers.
The ONS said that in February, payrolled employees increased by 98,000 compared to January, to 30.0 million. From December 2022 to February 2023, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 51,000 on the quarter, to 1,124,000, recording the eighth consecutive quarterly fall. The fall in the number of vacancies reflects uncertainty across industries.
The data also showed that from November 2022 to January 2023, the growth in average total pay (including bonuses) and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 5.7% per annum (+6% in December) and 6.5% per annum (+6.7% in December). Economists had expected an increase of 5.7% and 6.6%, respectively. Average regular pay growth for the private sector was 7.0% in November 2022 to January 2023, and 4.8% for the public sector. A larger growth outside of the coronavirus pandemic period for the public sector was last seen in December 2005 to February 2006 (5.2%).