Half a million UK workers drop out of workforce, citing long-term illness
LONDON, Nov 10 (Reuters) – The number of people who have dropped out of Britain’s job market since 2019 and who now cite a long-term illness or mental health problems has risen by half a million or about 25%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The increase in long-term sickness started in 2019, before the pandemic, before rising sharply by 363,000 between early 2020 and the three months to the end of August 2022 to reach 2.5 million, it said.
The analysis adds to the Bank of England’s worries as it seeks to tame inflation, now at a 40-year high. The BoE is concerned that the number of people leaving Britain’s workforce will fuel inflationary pressures and the latest labour market data pointed to a record workforce exodus.
“More understanding is needed about the impacts of National Health Service (NHS) waiting times, long COVID, and the ageing workforce,” the ONS said in a report published on Thursday that analyses previously announced official data.
Long-term sickness was the reason given by 28% of people who were neither working nor looking for work between June and August 2022, up from 25% at the start of the pandemic.
However, most people who now cite long-term sickness as their reason for not being in work or looking for a job originally dropped out of the labour market for another reason.