Understanding labour force participation in the United Kingdom

Quarterly Bulletin 2011 Q1
Published on 21 March 2011

By Andrew Benito of the Bank’s Structural Economic Analysis Division and Philip Bunn of the Bank’s Inflation Report and Bulletin Division.

Understanding the labour market requires an assessment of labour supply as well as labour demand. Labour supply is a significant component of the overall supply side of the economy which plays a role, alongside demand, in shaping inflationary pressure in the economy. How the economy’s supply capacity has been affected by the recession has been raised as an important issue in recent Inflation Reports. How labour force participation evolves in the medium term is likely to depend on whether recent trends in participation continue and how those trends are affected by, among other things, the recession. This article presents a disaggregated view of labour force participation in order to assess the role of these influences.

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