See the latest key labour market indicators

16 April 2024

Raj Pooni

Raj Pooni

NFU Information and Statistics Coordinator

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Our NFU experts give you the inside line on labour market conditions and the wider economic picture.

We communicate a range of indicators of economic activity in the UK labour market that can be used as a guide for employers when conducting periodic pay reviews for workers.

The indicators include average weekly earnings, wages including the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage, cost of living (Consumer Price Index and Retail Price Index) and farm business profitability.

Headline figures – March 2023

Key Labour Market Indicators are designed to provide headline figures on the wider economic and labour market conditions in the UK. This can be used as a quick reference guide when conducting periodic pay reviews for workers. 

Earnings in the economy

+6.1% AWE (Average Weekly Earnings)

This is the key National Statistics indicator of short-term earnings growth and with monthly estimates of the level of AWE per worker/employee. It provides details of AWE for the UK economy as whole as well as the level of pay within other sectors. The year-on-year change in average pay is a useful indicator of wage changes in the wider economy.

Figures from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) show wage growth was 6.1% in the three months to January. While earnings are not rising as quickly as they have been in recent times, they are still outpacing inflation.

Annual average earnings growth for the public sector was 5.9% in the three-month period. For the private sector this was 6.1%, with growth last lower than this in May to July 2022 (6.0%).

The wholesaling, retailing, hotels and restaurants sector saw the largest annual regular growth rate at 7.2%.

A graph showing average weekly earning for the whole economy and private and public sectors

Wage rates

£11.44 Current NLW rate

The government has announced increases to wage rates. The new rates came into effect on 1 April 2024.

The NLW paid to workers aged 23 or over has increased from £10.42/hour to £11.44/hour. The new rate also applies to 21 and 22-year-olds for the first time. The rate for 18-20-year-olds has risen by 14.8% to £8.60. The apprentice rate has increased to £6.40.

In addition, the accommodation offset has risen by 9.8% to £9.99 per day. Sixteen and seventeen-year-olds have seen an increase of 21.2% to £6.40.

For more information, visit: National Living Wage and Minimum Wage increases – what you need to know.

Rates from April 2024  
NLW 23+ £11.44
21-22-year-old rate £11.44
18-20-year-old rate £8.60
16-17-year-old rate £6.40
Apprentice rate £6.40
Accommodation offset £9.99 per day

Source: Low pay commission

Cost of living

+3.4% CPI (Consumer Price Index)

CPI measures changes in the price level of the labour market based on consumer goods and services purchased by households. RPI measures inflation, but also includes the costs of housing (e.g. mortgage interest costs and council tax), while CPI does not.

The UK inflation rate as measured by the CPI fell from 4% to 3.4% in February, according to the ONS. This is the lowest level since September 2021, when it stood at 3.1%.

Inflation has been gradually falling since it hit 11.1% in October 2022, its highest rate for 40 years. The Bank of England has repeatedly increased interest rates to try to control inflation, but many economists expect them to start cutting them in the summer.


A graph showing the consumer price index change from January 2015 to January 2024

Farm business profitability

+16.6% TIFF (Total Income from Farming)

Defra has published results of TIFF for 2022. The TIFF is a measure of the performance of the whole agricultural industry in the UK. The profitability of UK farming increased by £1.1 billion (16.6%) from 2021.

Following an exceptional year of price volatility, this large increase was driven by price increases across the majority of commodities, which more than offset increases in input prices.

In 2022, agriculture’s contribution to the UK economy was £13.9 billion.

A graph showing total farm income from 1990 to 2022

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This page was first published on 12 January 2024. It was updated on 16 April 2024.

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