Labour market recovery now firmly established
18 Dec 2013
Nigel Meager, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, comments on today's ONS Labour Market Statistics:
‘Today's statistics from ONS show another strong improvement, confirming that the UK labour market recovery is well under way.
‘Nearly all the main indicators have moved significantly in the right direction compared with last month's statistics.
‘Unemployment (on both the Labour Force Survey measure and the claimant count measure) is down by nearly 100,000 on the previous quarter, to 7.4%, and the narrower claimant count measure of unemployment fell by nearly 37,000 on the previous month. Importantly, youth unemployment has also fallen over the quarter.
‘Employment is also growing, as are the number of job vacancies. It is interesting to note that total hours worked in the economy have grown slightly faster than total (headcount) employment. This reverses the pattern seen in recent quarters, and suggests that the trend towards shorter-hours working and under-employment may be turning at last, as the economy picks up. Despite this, however, it's worth stressing that the number of people working part-time because they can't find a full-time job still remains at an all-time high (just below 1.5 million). If this figure also begins to dip in the coming months it will be further confirmation that the recovery is a solid one.
‘Also out today, the figures for public sector jobs show that the ongoing fall in public sector employment seems to have flattened out in the quarter to September 2013, although this may well be temporary given the further spending cuts in the pipeline, and meanwhile the strong growth in private sector jobs continues (up a quarter of a million between June and September 2013). The seemingly inexorable squeeze on ordinary workers' living standards has also continued with yet another quarter in which average earnings growth at 0.9% is greatly outpaced by price increases at 2.2%. ’
The Institute for Employment Studies is the UK’s leading independent, not-for-profit centre for research and evidence-based consultancy on employment, the labour market, and HR policy and practice.
About Nigel Meager
Nigel is a labour economist by training, and a well-established international expert on labour market and employment policy issues. He has worked at IES since 1984, following posts at the Universities of Bath and Glasgow. He has been Director of the Institute since 2004. He has a long and varied research track record covering the functioning of national, regional and local labour markets, unemployment, skill shortages, labour market flexibility, changing patterns of work and equal opportunity policies and practices.
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