About the data
To be classified as in employment one must be aged 16 years or over, have completed at least one hour per week of paid work, or be in work but temporarily away from it, be on a government supported training or employment programme, or be working in a family business without a formal wage or salary but benefitting from its profits.
Data from the Labour Force Survey estimated there to be 249,000 16-64 year olds in employment in Somerset between October 2017 and September 2018, a rate of 79.6%. This is the highest rate seen for many years. It is also above the South West rate of 78.7% and significantly higher than the UK rate of 75%. Within Somerset the highest employment rate was in Taunton Deane (83.7%), where 55,200 working age residents were in employment, closely followed by South Somerset (83.6%) with 78,900. The three remaining districts had broadly similar employment rates, close to the national average. Mendip had the lowest rate of 75% with 48,600 16-64 year olds employed, West Somerset had a rate of 75.3% with 13,200 employed, and Sedgemoor had a rate of 75.8% with 53,600 employed.
Unemployment, as defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), refers to people who are without a job who have been actively seeking work in the past four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks, or, who are out of work, have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next two weeks.
Between October 2017 and September 2018, it is estimated that there were 7,600 unemployed working age residents in Somerset. This is a rate of 2.9%, which is broadly similar to the South West average of 3.0%, but notably lower than the UK average of 4.3%. Data at district level is typically less robust and was not available for West Somerset at all, but among the remaining Somerset districts the unemployment rate was highest in Mendip at 6.6% and lowest in South Somerset as 1.2%.
Economic inactivity is that section of the working age population not in employment nor actively seeking employment. These persons are therefore not part of the working population. The main reasons for economic inactivity include being a student, looking after family or home, being long-term sick, and being retired.
Data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) in January 2019 estimated there were 56,400 economically inactive residents aged 16-64 in Somerset between October 2017 and September 2018. This is roughly 18% of Somerset’s working age population and the lowest rate of economic inactivity seen in Somerset since 2015. This was narrowly lower than the rate for the whole of the South West of 18.9% and notably lower than the UK average of 21.7%. At the district level within Somerset, Taunton Deane had approximately 9,700 economically inactive working age residents and the lowest economic inactivity rate of 14.7%, followed closely by South Somerset with 14,600 and a rate of 15.5%. The highest economic inactivity rate of 22.9% was in West Somerset, where 4,000 16-64 year olds were economically inactive.
As has historically been the case, the self-employment rate in Somerset remains higher than the national average according to the UK Labour Force Survey (LFS). Between October 2017 and September 2018 there was an estimated 39,200 people self-employed in Somerset, a rate of 12.5% compared to 12.2% for the South West and 10.6% for the UK. District level self-employment figures from the LFS tend to fluctuate widely and be unreliable due to limitations regarding sample sizes at smaller geographies. However, using 2011 census data, which incidentally reported a very similar self-employment figure of 12.3% for Somerset, we can see that West Somerset had the highest self-employment figure of 16.3%, followed by Mendip at 14.2%. These are both rural and sparsely populated districts, areas which often have a higher propensity for self-employment. Taunton Deane had the lowest reported self-employment rate of 10.7%.
Source: ONS, NOMIS, Annual Population Survey