April Labour Market Statistics: comment from the Institute for Employment Studies

IES News

16 Apr 2024

Commenting on today's figures, Tony Wilson, Director at the Institute for Employment Studies said:

“Today’s jobs figures are surprisingly poor, with a steep fall in employment and a sharp rise in those out of work, including an unexpected rise in unemployment. However, most concerning is the rise in ‘economic inactivity’, which is the measure of those not in work but not looking for work, which is even higher now than it was in the depths of the pandemic. Overall there are nearly a million fewer people in the labour force than there were four years ago, and over a million fewer in work than there would have been if pre-crisis trends had continued. The trouble is that not enough people out of work are looking for jobs, rather than that people who are looking for jobs can’t find them. In other words, the weak labour market is holding back economic growth, not the other way round.

“We need to move faster on rolling out the measures that the government announced last year to try to address this, including the new Universal Support programme and more investment in health, childcare and employment support. But we need to go much further than this too if we want to reverse these trends, by more fundamentally reforming how we reach and engage with people who are out of work, and in particular how we make our employment services more accessible, inclusive and supportive. We need to expect more from employers too, both to keep people in work and to improve access to work for those who may need more support.”

Read our detailed briefing note here