Back to Top

 Skip navigation

Summary Results

LFS estimates were updated on 22nd Feb 2024 to incorporate updated population estimates for the period 2016 Q3 to 2023 Q3, based on the results of Census 2022. LFS results are updated in this way following each Census of Population. For further information see Background Notes.
The data in this publication does not reflect these updates. Please refer to the relevant tables on LFS Px-stat for updated LFS estimates.

Open in Excel:

Fall in numbers in employment and increase in absences from work result in 7.6 million fewer hours worked per week (-9.9%) in the year to Q1 2021

 Standard LFS Methodology (ILO) COVID-19 Adjusted Estimates March 2021
IndicatorQ1 2021end of Q1 2021
Employed persons aged 15 years and over2,230,6001,785,923
Employment rate for those aged 15-64 years65.6%52.0%
Unemployed persons aged 15-74 years170,500612,443
Unemployment rate for those aged 15-74 years7.1%25.7%
In labour force2,401,100-
Not in labour force1,603,400-


  • There were 2,230,600 people aged 15 and over in employment in Q1 2021, giving an employment rate of 65.6% for those aged 15-64, based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) criteria.
  • The number of persons in employment was down 5.0% (-116,600) from 2,347,200 over the year while the employment rate was down from 69.6% in Q1 2020.
  • Of those employed in Q1 2021, 309,500 (13.9%) were "Away from work" in the reference week. This compares to 208,400 (8.9%) who were "Away from work" in the reference week a year earlier.
  • Because employment was down over the year and the number of absences from work increased over the year, the number of employed persons at work in the reference week fell by 10.2% (-217,700) over the year.
  • There was a consequential fall of 9.9% or 7.6 million hours worked per week from 76.3 million hours in Q1 2020 to 68.7 million hours in Q1 2021.
  • The COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Employment, or the lower bound for the number of employed persons aged 15 years and over, rose from 1,785,923 to 1,845,383 between the end of March 2021 and the end of April 2021. This was accompanied by a rise from 52.0% in March 2021 to 56.1% in the associated COVID-19 Adjusted Employment Rate, for those aged 15-64.


  • There were 170,500 unemployed persons in Q1 2021 based on ILO methodology.
  • In Q1 2021, the unemployment rate was 7.1% for those aged 15-74 years with a rate of 15.6% for those aged 15-24 years. These rates are up from 4.7% and 10.5% respectively in Q1 2020.
  • The COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Monthly Unemployment published as part of the Monthly Unemployment release for May 2021 today, was 612,443 for March 2021 (end of Q1 2021). This estimate is an upper bound and adds all those on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) to the standard Monthly Unemployment Estimate.
  • The COVID-19 Adjusted Measure of Unemployment fell from 612,443 in March 2021 to 564,059 in April 2021 and to 487,122 in May 2021.
  • The associated COVID-19 Adjusted Unemployment Rate fell from 25.7% in March 2021 to 24.8% and 21.9% in April and May 2021 respectively.
  • The Monthly Unemployment release published separately today includes the latest standard and COVID-19 Adjusted Measures of Unemployment for all months up to May 2021. Please see the Monthly Unemployment release for more information.

Labour Force

  • There were 2,401,100 persons in the Labour Force in Q1 2021 and this was down by 2.5% (-60,800) from Q1 2020.
  • The participation rate in Q1 2021 stood at 60.0% down from 62.2% a year earlier.

See Press Statement and Labour Force Survey Presentation Quarter 1 2021 (PPT 1,486KB)


This is an audio file with a 26-second quote from CSO statistician with the Labour Market Division, Jim Dalton, about the Labour Force Survey Quarter 1 2021 release.
Media outlets have permission to use the clip as long as they credit the CSO.

Next chapter>>Employment