A number of recent studies have shown that the size and composition of the UK workforce has changed since the Covid-19 pandemic. Some people are unable to work, and some people are choosing not to work, while others would like to work but are unable to find suitable employment. For many of those who are at work, where and how they work has changed. So, what’s going on?
When collecting and analysing data on the UK workforce, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) regards those aged 16–64 as potential employees. The employment rate is the ratio of those in employment to the potential working-age population. In January to March 2023, the number of people in work in the UK was just under 30 million. The employment rate was calculated as 79.9%, meaning that some 20 people in every 100 (around 10 million people) who in theory could have been in the workforce, were not in paid work. What, then, are some of the reasons why around one fifth of the potential workforce is not in employment?
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