Record numbers of people leaving the workforce due to long term sickness

Date : 15 June 2023

The UK employment rate continues to move upwards, despite high inflation and falling vacancies. There are now nearly 2.6 million people who are economically inactive due to ill health.

The employment rate in the UK rose again by 0.1% to 76% in the period from February 2023 to April 2023, according to the latest figures from ONS. The employment rate is now 0.6% below the pre-COVID rate of 76.6%.

Unemployment rose slightly on the quarter to 3.8% for February to April. Vacancies have fallen to below 1.05 million, recording the 11th consecutive period in which vacancies have fallen. Vacancies are now well below the peak of 1.3 million at this time last year.

Falling vacancies, should illustrate a cooling labour market, however wages continue to rise at a record rate of 7.2%.

Part of the reason for record pay across the economy, is due to the shortage in labour supply, in part due to economic inactivity.

Positively, the number of economically inactive adults continues to fall by 0.4 percentage points on the quarter to 21%. The fall over this period has been largely driven by those moving out of economic inactivity for ‘other’ reasons as well as those looking after families.

Since the pandemic, the number of those economically inactive due to sickness has been rising and has again hit a record high of nearly 2.6 million. This compares to 2.1 million in the period January to March 2020.

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