Last year was unprecedented for businesses across the world. The UK’s economy took a hit and the jobs and employment market reflected this, despite Government business support and the furlough scheme.

With the dawn of a new year, comes fresh perspectives and a brighter outlook for the future. After a year like 2020, we’re all hopeful for a better time of it this year. Combined with the newly announced ‘roadmap’ to release from lockdown, the latest data surrounding the employment and jobs market paints a more positive picture for the rest of year.

Brand new figures from the Office for National Statistics have been unveiled today, spelling out the employment rates, number of job vacancies and average salaries across the UK for the past month.

Pages and pages of numbers, graphs and percentages can be a little hard to digest. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you and poured over the stats to find the most important bits.

Keep reading for what you need to know from the latest Government data.


Earnings and Employment From PAYE

This section takes a look at the monthly estimates of payrolled employees and their PAYE data for the month of January 2021.

When comparing January 2021 to the final month of last year, we can see an increase in the number of people in payrolled employment. This figure has gone up by 83,000 people.

But how about how much are staff earning? Well it’s good news on that front too. Workers in payrolled employment are earning 5% more a month on average when compared to monthly salaries in December 2020.

Similarly, when comparing the median monthly salaries in Jan 2021 to those of January in 2020, a 4% increase in monthly pay can be observed.

If you’re working in the Health and Social Work sector, you can expect to have seen the largest increase in what you’re taking home each month – by 6.2%. The number of payrolled employees was also highest in this sector, with a rise of 104,000 employees seen last month.

While the amount of pay growth fell away sharply in April of last year, August 2020 saw the stats return to the previous trend. In fact, average pay increases have now jumped up to above pre-coronavirus levels.

Employment (and Unemployment) in the UK

This section looks at data gathered through the Labour Force Survey. The information is collected through interviews conducted between October and December 2020.

Despite record decreases in the employment rate across certain age groups and sectors over the past year, these numbers have started to show signs of returning to pre-pandemic levels. They’re not entirely back to normal, however, slowly but surely, the gap between the percentage of the UK working population in employment at this time last year and this year is closing. A total of 32.39 million people over 16 are currently in employment, according to the survey.

Total hours worked continues to show recovery following the plummet experienced in April to June 2020 due to the introduction of the government’s furlough scheme. Although increases have slowed slightly when compared with pre-pandemic levels of growth. When compared with the previous quarter, the total number of hours worked has gone up by 53.7 million hours. 

Broken down into a weekly figure, the average actual weekly hours worked saw an increase of 1.8 hours when compared with the previous quarter – that’s up to 33.9 hours a week for men and 26.2 hours for women.


  Vacancies and Jobs in the UK

 In this section, you’ll find information about the number of jobs advertised and new positions available between November 2020 and January 2021.

In the summer of 2020, the number of job vacancies was down by 60% on the previous year. Since then, the UK economy has made significant recovery and this means we’re now only seeing a discrepancy of 26% in the number of vacancies this quarter when compared with the same time last year.

The figures show that there were 64,000 more vacancies between Nov 20 and Jan 21, than in the previous quarter. This growth compares with a quarterly increase of 93,000 in the three months prior to December 2020 and more than 100,000 in each of the three previous periods.

The number of vacancies fell sharply in April 2020 when COVID-19 measures were first introduced, but showed signs of quick recovery soon after. This recovered slowed down slightly through the autumn and measures were tightened after a brief spell of more freedoms afforded to the general population.

Estimates of recent figures show a really strong start to February. The first two weeks of which have displayed an increase in vacancies advertised online.

While sectors such as Accommodation and Food Services have shown a decline in the number of vacancies, other industry figures have strengthened. Manufacturing; Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities; Construction; and Public Admin & Defence are all sectors seeing growth in the number of vacancies during the November 2020 – January 2021 period.

With the Prime Minister’s recent annoucement spelling out a return to relative normality for the summer, we’ll have to keep a close eye on the figures to see if the employment market follows suit.

From what we’re seeing so far, we think we’re safe enough to be optimistic for a postive outlook for the future.



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