Page last updated at 09:22 GMT, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Britain's jobless: In statistics

Unemployment figures have been rising since the UK downturn took hold. New job losses have taken the number seeking work to 1.8m at last count and a further 2m people who are economically inactive say they want a job.

Keeping track of who is out of work and why is a complex task. Here are some of the key statistics.


Graph: UK unemployment since 1989

The most recent rise in unemployment, for the three months to September, took the figure to 1.82m, reaching an 11-year high.

Unemployment is counted in two ways:

The Labour Force Survey - using an International Labour Organisation (ILO)-agreed definition - it defines every respondent as either employed, unemployed or economically inactive.

A separate count is done of the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. This rose by 36,500 to 980,900 in October - the highest monthly increase since 1992.

This isn't the first time unemployment has risen in the last 10 years, but forecasts this time around are significantly more gloomy.

Redundancies and vacancies

With redundancies up and vacancies down Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell says the government's main aim now is to "make the downturn as shallow and as short as possible".

Pie chart: Who are the jobless?

When the 1.8m unemployed are added to those of working age who are not seeking work - the economically inactive - the jobless total comes to nearly 10m.

In the reasons given for economic inactivity, more than three-quarters of a million people are listed as 'other'.

The Office for National Statistics says the Labour Force Survey - from which the figures are derived - is voluntary and some participants decline to give a reason for their inactivity.

They may also be listed as other because they fit into a number of categories, or their situation defies categorisation.

Graph: Worklessness in UK households

A working-age household is one which includes at least one person of working age - a man aged 16-64, or a woman aged 16-59.

The total number of workless households for the three months to June 2008 was 3m, down 15,000 from a year earlier and up 43,000 from five years ago.

A higher proportion of lone parent households are workless, at 40%, than other types of household. Just over 1m households with children - including those with two parents - are workless.

Map: UK unemployment by region

ONS publishes quarterly statistics for the nine English government office regions and for Scotland and Wales.

Monthly figures are released for Northern Ireland by the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment.


Map of unemployment in Europe

Eurostat - the statistical office of the European communities - estimated that 17.1m people in the 27 EU countries were unemployed in October 2008, an increase on the previous month.

The unemployment rate is the percentage of people able, available and seeking work, but not in work. The figures are based on the definition of unemployment recommended by the ILO.

Spain and the Slovak Republic have the highest unemployment rates, at 11.9% and 10% respectively. The lowest is in the Netherlands, at 2.5% unemployment. This compares with 5.8% in the UK.

Outside the EU, Canada has a rate of 6.2%, the US 5.8% and Japan 4.2%.

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