According to the report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), from January to March, the unemployment rate rose from 3.8% to 3.9%%, reaching the highest level since the period between November 2021 and January 2022. The increase in unemployment was largely driven by people unemployed for over 12 months. Economists expected unemployment to remain at 3.8%. The number of unemployed individuals rose by 60 thousand, totaling 1.329 million. The level of economic inactivity decreased by 0.4%, to 21.0%. The decrease in economic inactivity was largely driven by people aged 16 to 24 years. Meanwhile, the employment rate increased by 0.2%, to 75.9%, which was driven by part-time employees and self-employed workers. Employment levels witnessed a rise of 182 thousand, reaching a total of 32.995 million.
The ONS said that in April, payrolled employees decreased by 136,000 compared to the revised March figures, to 29.8 million. This is the first fall in total payrolled employees since February 2021. In February to April, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 55,000 on the quarter to 1,083,000. Vacancies fell on the quarter for the 10th consecutive period and reflect uncertainty across industries.
The data also showed that from January to March, the growth in average total pay (including bonuses) and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 5.8% per annum (+5.8% in February) and 6.7% per annum (+6.6% in February). Economists had expected an increase by 5.8% and 6.8%, respectively. Average regular pay growth for the private sector was 7.0% and for the public sector was 5.6% in January to March 2023. A larger growth for the public sector was last seen in August to October 2003 (5.7%).