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

IES News

14 May 2024

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

“Today’s jobs data is very disappointing again.The UK remains pretty much the only country in the developed world where employment is stuck below pre-pandemic rates, with our continued weak performance almost entirely explained by more people outside the labour force entirely, or ‘economically inactive’. Overall there are now 900,000 more people out of work than before the pandemic began, with virtually all of this due to higher economic inactivity.

There appear to be three key reasons for this: fewer older people coming back to work, more young people in education or out of work, and more people off with long-term health conditions across all ages. However for all the talk about this being driven by a ‘sicknote culture’, the reality is that the UK has among the lowest rates of sickness absence in the world, while our analysis shows that the growth in ill health is being driven primarily by fewer people with health conditions coming back to work rather than more people leaving.  So we need to do far more and better to make our employment services more accessible, inclusive and supportive, rather than just threatening to change the rules or cut people’s benefits.”

Read our detailed briefing note here