This month’s Office for National Statistics paints a positive picture when it comes to the unemployment rate, labour market stats and earnings and employment figures

The fast -paced uptick can be mostly explained by an easing of lockdown measures in the UK. Also, the figures for this year are compared with those from this time last year when the world was experiencing the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Its good news for the labour market as this month’s figures show clear signs of recovery after a very tough year.

The number of payrolled employees has increased for the sixth consecutive month, up by 197,000 in May 2021 to 28.5 million.

This time last year, unemployment soared as businesses closed their doors for months at a time while the UK experienced lockdowns measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Following a period of employment growth and low unemployment since the start of the pandemic, employment had generally been decreasing and unemployment increasing. However, the latest estimates (February to April 2021) continue to show signs of recovery. There was a quarterly increase in the employment rate of 0.2 percentage points to 75.2% and a quarterly decrease in the unemployment rate of 0.3 percentage points to 4.7%.

With the relaxation of many coronavirus restrictions, total hours worked increased on the quarter, however it is still below pre-pandemic levels. The redundancy rate decreased on the quarter and is now similar to pre-pandemic levels.

The number of job vacancies in March to May 2021 was 758,000, only 27,000 below the level before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in January to March 2020; most industries have recovered to show vacancies above pre-pandemic levels. The strongest quarterly increase was in accommodation and food services.

Early estimates for May 2021 indicate that there were 28.5 million payrolled employees (Figure 1), a rise of 0.5% compared with the same period of the previous year and a rise of 141,000 people over the 12-month period. Compared with the previous month, the number of payrolled employees increased by 0.7% in May 2021 – equivalent to 197,000 people.

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