Earnings growth, unemployment numbers, the number of people in work. All vital barometers of the UK’s economic picture and the reason why the monthly ONS labour market statistics report never fails to make headline news.
But alongside these well known statistics, there are a few lesser viewed numbers worth keeping an eye on to gain a more nuanced picture of the labour market.
Actual hours worked
As it says on the tin, this estimates the actual number of hours worked in the economy, seasonally adjusted. In May, this hit a new high – above the pre-recession peak.
“Oh we do like to be beside the seaside, oh we do like to be beside the sea”, as the classic English music-hall song goes. But for many people, that’s no longer the case. British seaside towns – once the bastion of the country’s summer economy – now have the nation’s highest levels of insolvency, according to a data analysis by the Office for National Statistics.
Four of the five highest rates of insolvencies in 2011 (per 10,000 adult population) were areas containing seaside towns, and they make up just under half of the top 20.
The big story from today’s Office for National Statistics migration figures is undoubtedly the strength of student immigration to the UK. But there is another angle, which is also worthy of attention.
More people left the UK to find work than arrived in the UK for work, according to the provisional data for 2011. That is, the net effect was the departure of 17,000 workers from the UK. This level of workers’ outward migration has only happened once before in the past decade, at the height of the recession in 2009. Read more
One of the more interesting aspects of Friday’s ONS release on the UK internet access patterns is the reasons why households don’t have internet access.
Much of the data release is as you would expect: more households have internet access, and more people are using computers daily, a trend especially noticeable among the young. Read more
The record-low number of strikes in 2010 is in part a reflection of the UK’s shift away from a mass-labour economy, with fewer people being employed in large-scale white-collar unionised workplaces. Strike activity in the mining and manufacturing sectors has dropped off sharply, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Working days lost per 1,000 employees were close to zero in these industries in 2009 and 2010.
The service sector now has the highest rate of strikes at 16 days lost per 1,000 people employed. This is mostly due to a handful of high-profile strike days in the public sector and by transport workers. Just over half the strikes measured occurred in the public sector, yet they accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total days lost to strike action. In particular, six stoppages lasting for three days each accounted for 71 percent of the total working days lost to strikes in 2010. This is because the strikes were so large – involving 91,800 workers in total.
But it is a long way from the industrial unrest of the 1970s, when 12.9 million days were lost on average each year. Some 132,500 workers were involved in labour disputes in 2010, compared to an annual average of 1 million in the 1980s.
Source: Office for National Statistics
Ever wondered what happened to the idea of a national happiness index, trailed by David Cameron last year?
Well, statisticians from the Office of National Statistics have been quietly working away on the project. In December the first set of initial analyses, based on a sample size of 4,200, concluded that three quarters of British adults rated their “life satisfaction” as seven or more out of 10. Read more