How many people are employed in the UK? It's a good question, and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) is the biggest source of tax revenue its useful for setting the nations tax budget. According to HMRC'snewly published Experimental Statistics it is just under 33 million in 2017-18.

HMRC has been gathering PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) data for the tax years 2014-15 to 2017-18.

Under RTI, employers are required to send HMRC information about tax and other deductions made through the PAYE system every time an employee is paid. Since April 2014, all employers have been required to report in real time with around 2.3 million PAYE schemes covering a total of 45 million employees and pensioners reporting through RTI. This all provides HMRC with a very rich source of data, which can be used to better inform public understanding of the labour market.

The data shows the numbers of people employed in the UK, their average pay and location. These statistics are being compared to other available published labour market statistics. 

These RTI statistics are experimental and statisticians are comparing these to the outputs produced by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) which include the headline Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) statistics.

There are differences in the established headline series and the experimental RTI data which the report explains, for example, the RTI statistics report a higher number of individuals receiving pay from PAYE employment than the LFS headline employment count. The latter is a manual survey which samples a week in time, whereas RTI counts all paid employment over the tax quarter.

The RTI data excludes pension income.

The key findings of the RTI statistics are that:

  • 31.2 million individuals receiving pay from PAYE employment in the 2014-15 tax year, this increased 32.7 million in 2017-18.
  • The highest number of employees were based in the South East and London has the most employees (as you would expect with most capital cities).
  • The mean pay from PAYE employment for the 2014-15 tax year across the UK was £22,520, rising to £22,890 in 2015-16, £23,510 in 2016-17 and £24,260 in 2017-18. Median pay from PAYE employment for the UK in the tax year 2014-15 was £16,060, rising to £16,360 in 2015-16, £16,840 in 2016-17 and £17,440 in 2017-18.
  • London had both the highest mean and median pay from PAYE employment compared with the other regions. Mean pay in London is £32,710 in 2017-18 and Median pay is £19,610.
  • The year on year growth in mean pay for the UK was 1.7% in 2015-16, 2.7% in 2016-17 and 3.2% in 2017-18.
  • Median pay grew by 1.8% in 2015-16, 2.9% in 2016-17 and 3.5% in 2017-18.
  • Total pay from PAYE for the UK as a whole was £702 billion in 2014-15 rising to £730 billion in 2015-16, £760 billion in 2016-17 and £792 billion in 2017-18.


UK Real Time Experimental Statistics