Labour Market Statistics, April 2019: Employment continues to rise, but signs that earnings growth may have stalled

Press Releases

16 Apr 2019

Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), comments on the April 2019 release of ONS labour market statistics.

On the face of it, today’s jobs figures continue to defy expectations.  With the employment rate breaching 76% and unemployment below 4% for the first time since 1974, the labour market appears to be in rude health.

Even beneath these headlines, there are a swathe of other positive indicators.  Full-time employment is up by nearly 150 thousand in the last three months. The number of people not looking for work and not available for work (the so-called ‘economically inactive’) is down over 100 thousand on three months ago - with the inactivity rate at its joint lowest (20.7%) and the number of those who want a job at its lowest ever (1.8 million).  Vacancies remain close to record levels. And on earnings, both nominal pay and inflation-adjusted pay are higher than a year ago.

However there are also some reasons to be cautious.  Despite record employment, there are signs that people may be finding it harder to get the work that they want - with the number of part-time workers who want a full-time job up by 70 thousand (or nearly 10%) in the last three months.  And on earnings, while pay has risen year-on-year, in recent months that growth has stalled - with both nominal and real terms pay broadly flat since the turn of the year. Whether this reflects short-term uncertainty over Brexit or a wider cooling down in the labour market should become clearer in the next few months.


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