March Labour Market Statistics: Comment from the Institute for Employment Studies

IES News

14 Mar 2023

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

"There are still nearly half a million fewer people in work than before the Covid-19 pandemic, driven by more people out of work due to long-term health conditions and more older people out of work. Many of those who are out of work want to work, with 1.3 million people unemployed but a further 1.7 million who aren’t currently looking but say that they want a job now. So today’s figures show the scale of the challenge for the Budget tomorrow, with nearly three million people who want a job right now but most not getting any help to find one.

“The government has suggested that we’ll see new investment tomorrow in employment support for those out of work due to long-term ill health, but those who don’t take part could see their benefits reduce. This is being described as a ‘nudge’ but it’s more of a shove, and would be destined to fail. Threatening to cut people’s benefits will make people’s health worse and it will undermine trust and support from the services that it will need to work with to be effective, especially health services. It is also unnecessary, with a million of those off work with health conditions saying that they either want to work right now or expect to work in the future. Any offer of employment support needs to be open, unconditional, and working in partnership with health and other services.”

Read the detailed IES Labour Market Statistics briefing note here