There were 2,401,100 people in the labour force in Q1 2021, a fall of 60,800 (-2.5%) over the year
Numbers in the Labour Force and Participation rate
There were 2,401,100 people in the labour force in Q1 2021, a fall of 60,800 (-2.5%) over the year, using the standard LFS labour market measures based on the ILO criteria. This compares with an annual labour force increase of 49,000 (+2.0%) in Q1 2020 and 65,000 (+2.8%) in Q1 2019. See Table 9.1.
The number of males in the labour force fell by 2.8% (-37,600) to 1,294,100 in the year to Q1 2021 while the number of females in the labour force fell by 2.1% (-23,200) to 1,107,000. See Table 9.1.
The participation rate for all persons aged 15 years and over stood at 60.0% in Q1 2021 down from 62.2% a year earlier. In Q1 2021, the participation rate for males was 65.9% compared to 54.3% for females. Looking at the participation rates by age group, it was lowest for oldest and youngest age groups at 3.9% for those aged 75 and over, 18.9% for those aged 65-74 years and 19.6% for those aged 15-19 years. The participation rate was highest among the 35-44-year age group at 82.7%. See Tables 9.1 and 9.8.
Demographic and Participation Effect
The number of people in the labour force is influenced by changes in the size of the working age population (the demographic effect). Up to late 2008, this demographic effect added at least 30,000 to the labour force each year, driven mainly by immigration, peaking at 90,500 in Q2 2007. See Tables 9.1 and 9.7.
The positive demographic effect started to fall in the second half of 2007 as immigration decreased. It continued to fall in 2008 and 2009 and was negative between Q3 2009 and Q1 2014. The demographic effect turned positive again in Q2 2014 and has remained positive since then, contributing an increase of 20,000 to the labour force in Q1 2021.
In addition to the demographic effect, the change in the size of the labour force is influenced by changes in participation. The overall participation rate decreased by 2.2 percentage points to 60.0% over the year, the net result of changes in individual age groups for the same period was a negative participation effect of 80,700. See Tables 9.1 and 9.8.
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