The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the Authority to reply.
Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated February 2010:
As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking how many economically inactive people of working age wanted employment in the most recent year for which figures are available. (317339)
Estimates of economic inactivity are available from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). In accordance with the International Labour Organization (ILO) definition, people are classed as economically inactive if they are neither in employment nor unemployed.
The most recent estimates are for the three-month period September-November 2009 and show that 2.308 million seasonally adjusted economically inactive people of working age wanted a job. This estimate comprises those who have not been looking for work in the last four weeks, but who say they would like a regular paid job, plus those who have been looking for work but who were unable to start within two weeks.
These estimates are published in Table 13 of the Labour Market Statistical Bulletin.
As with any sample survey, estimates from the LFS are subject to a margin of uncertainty. Indications of the sampling variability of LFS aggregate estimates are provided in the Statistical Bulletin.