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Employment and unemployment


Employment

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) defines an employed person as anyone aged 16, or over, who has completed at least one hour of work in the period being measured, or are temporarily away from his or her job, such as being on holiday. The number of people in employment is not the same as the number of jobs given that some people have more than one job.

Video courtesy of OECD

Categories of employment

The LFS uses four categories of employment in the UK, which are:

  1. Employees

  2. The self-employed

  3. Unpaid family workers

  4. Participants in government-funded training schemes

Employment categories

The employment rate

The LFS defines the working age employment rate as the proportion of the working-age population who are in employment. The working age population includes men aged 16-64 and women aged 16-59.

Employment
Employment rate

However, with the onset of the global recession in 2008, the rate fell, and continued falling during 2009, to reach a low point of 72.6 by the middle of 2009.

Unemployment

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition of unemployment is those aged 16 or over are unemployed if they are:

  1. Out of work, want a job, have actively sought work in the last four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks.

  2. Out of work, have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next two weeks.

The unemployment rate

The ILO defines the unemployment rate as the proportion of the economically active people who are unemployed. The economically active are those who are either in employment or unemployed. (Source: ILO)

Claimant
Claimant count

Full employment

The full employment of labour has been a key economic objective ever since the mass unemployment experienced in the 1930s. Clearly, it is not possible to give a simple numerical definition of full employment, other than to say the unemployment rate should be as low as is achievable, and the employment rate as high as is achievable.

In 2008, the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) set the long-term target rate for working age employment of 80%.

Go to: Unemployment