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Where is the Covid-19 Labour Market Recovery?

  • Posted By GC Insight

The challenges facing the UK economy are significant: the COVID-19 pandemic exposed and accentuated long-standing and underlying problems. The labour market is in flux, with a mismatch between the opportunities available and the type of work people are willing and capable of doing.

The ONS release a comprehensive annual dataset on employment in Great Britain called the business register and employment survey, or BRES, (with Northern Ireland data being released separately). BRES data is highly granular with findings estimating employment down to lower super output area (LSOA) levels – one of the UK’s smallest statistical geographies – and providing a sectoral breakdown to the lowest classification.

The level of detail on offer is a hallmark of the ONS’ commitment to high quality and usable data, however with this detail comes inevitable release-lags. BRES data is often more than a year behind the present day labour market position and as a result for the last 12 months those working closely with this data have been reliant on data from 2021. Given the period when this data was collected, there are, unsurprisingly, findings that are highly impacted by the economic restrictions caused by COVID-19. With large swathes of the economy still under partial or full-lockdown at the start of 2021 it has been nearly impossible to truly understand the scale of the post-covid recovery (or lack thereof) with employment data collected in the midst of the pandemic.

However, this month the ONS released their latest version of BRES which covers employment data in 2022. While this data is still not in “real time” it does allow us to gauge where a recovery has begun to take place in our labour markets.

At ekosgen we have used our in-house Microsoft Power Bi technical capabilities to produce this dashboard providing a deep dive into the geographical and sectoral dimensions of employment recovery.

Measuring the COVID Recovery on the British Labour Market

Ninety-four of the 363 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales have smaller labour markets in 2022 than in 2019, this equates to 26% of local authorities not experiencing a recovery to pre-pandemic levels. 20% of local authorities have recovered close to pre-pandemic levels, while 54% have labour markets with more jobs in 2022 than in 2019.

The geographic dimension of labour market recovery are evident, with London boroughs seeing high rates of recovery relative to other parts of the country.

Sector patterns are also present, areas with a high prevalence of retail employment and large visitor economies are experiencing poor labour market recoveries relative to areas where there are higher rates of employment in the professional and financial services and IT sectors.

We welcome opportunities to discuss how we can use our interactive dashboard capabilities and economic strategy expertise to maximise the economic recovery and growth across the country.

Chris Fox

Senior Consultant, ekosgen

For any further discussion on our capabilities in this area please do not hesitate to contact myself or colleagues,

Lauren Newby (

Margaret Collins (

Pamela Reid (

Ekosgen Graph A Covid Recovery 1123
Ekosgen Graph 1 Covid Recovery 1123