More good news on the labour market front
19 Feb 2014
Nigel Meager, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, comments on today's ONS Labour Market Statistics:
‘Today's statistics from ONS are again encouraging, and confirm that the economic recovery is leading to an upturn in the labour market.
‘The statistics tell us that there are nearly 200,000 more people in employment over the quarter, and 125,000 fewer unemployed people. Youth unemployment is also now starting to drift down as well. Total hours worked in the economy are growing, and job vacancies are up, strongly indicating a surge in hiring activity among employers. It is interesting to note that the growth in employment is almost entirely due to full-time employment. Part-time work has started to shrink slightly, and that shrinkage is mainly among 'involuntary part-time' workers, that is those who are working part-time because they could not find a full-time job, whose numbers grew so greatly in the recession to nearly 1.5 million. It is very early days, but there may be some early signs in these figures that the recovery is starting to make a dent on the previously growing levels of 'under-employment'.
‘Another notable feature of the latest data is the continuing growth in self-employment; up by another 172,000 in the quarter to a new record of nearly 4.4 million. 14.5 per cent of all people in work are now self-employed, and there remains a debate about how far this reflects a genuine surge in entrepreneurship in the workforce which will ultimately generate many more sustainable new small businesses, and how far it consists of a raft of freelancers and odd-jobbers, doing bits and pieces of contract work in order to keep a toehold in the labour market until they are able to return to regular employment. If it is mainly the latter, then we might expect this self-employment boom to tail off as the economic recovery takes hold, and it will be worth monitoring these data in the months ahead.’
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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