At any point in time, anyone aged 16 or over has a labour market status that is one (and only one) of the following:

  • employed: has a job, is an unpaid family worker, on a government training scheme or temporarily away from their job
  • unemployed: does not have a job but has been seeking work in the past four weeks and is available to start in the next two weeks
  • economically inactive: neither employed nor unemployed, for example, through sickness, disability or because they are studying (conversely, those either employed or unemployed are economically active or ‘in the labour market’)

In labour market statistics, it’s common to express these as rates (percentages):

  • employment rate: the percentage of the population that is employed
  • participation rate: the percentage of the population that is economically active; that is, either in work (employed) or looking for work (unemployed)
  • economic inactivity rate: the percentage of the population that is economically inactive
  • unemployment rate: the percentage of the economically-active population that is unemployed

The employment, participation and economic inactivity rates (the first three of the above) all have the same denominator: the entire population. In contrast, the unemployment rate uses the economically-active population as the denominator.

Separately, individuals may be in education or training (ET), or not. Ignoring, for the employed, the distinction between those in education and training and those that aren’t, the grid below shows the relationship between labour market status and education/training. Viewed this way, the second and third cells on the right-hand side show those not in employment, education or training (NEET). The NEET rate is the percentage of the entire population that is NEET. This is the same denominator as for the employment, participation and economic inactivity rates.

Use the buttons below the grid to see how the composition of those aged 16-24 in the UK has changed since 2001Q4. Hover over the cells to see the number of people in each category and their share in the total population. With the exception of the unemployment rate, these percentages match the rates in the top-right corner.

The underlying data for the visualisation are here, compiled from ONS releases (see sources below). The file is a CSV file with YAML frontmatter.


Office for National Statistics (2015a), ‘Labour Market Statistics, November 2015’
[Accessed 12/11/2015]

Office for National Statistics (2015b), ‘Young People not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET), August 2015’–employment-or-training–neets-/august-2015/index.html
[Accessed 04/11/2015]