ONS: Long term sickness drives record levels of economic inactivity

UK unemployment fell in the three months to August 2022 (from 3.8% to 3.5%), however official figures point to a sharp rise in the number of people classified as economically inactive – i.e. neither employed nor looking for work.

The Office for National Statistics reported a 0.6 per cent increase in the economic inactivity rate over the three-month period to 21.7%.

This translates into almost nine million people of working age (16-64) having neither worked in the last four weeks nor able to enter employment in the next two.

According to the ONS, this increase was driven by long-term sickness, which rose to a record high between June and August.

Almost 2.5 million people are now classified as economically inactive because of long-term health problems, with the most significant increases seen in the 50-64 and 16-24 age brackets.

Student numbers also contributed to the headline economic inactivity figure.

Figure 1: ONS figures, as reported by the BBC