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

IES News

13 Sep 2022

Commenting on the figures, IES Director Tony Wilson said:

"Today’s figures should be sounding alarm bells in government, with the number of people out of work due to long-term ill health now rising faster than at any point in at least three decades.  This is happening despite there being well over a million vacancies in the economy and unemployment at its lowest in most of our lifetimes.  Yet there are still more than half a million more people out of work than there were before the pandemic began and firms simply can’t find the workers to fill their jobs.  This is holding back growth but also pushing up inflation, with pay growth in the private sector now running above 6% and contributing to even higher prices. Of course inflation is even higher still, which combined with anaemic public sector pay means that earnings in real terms have fallen for the ninth month in a row.

“This weak jobs recovery is being driven by more people out of work due to long-term ill health, up by 350 thousand since the pandemic and by 130 thousand in the last three months alone.  NHS waiting lists, poor mental health, a lack of specialist employment support and long covid will all be playing a part in this, but whatever the reasons we need to do far more to help those with ill health to prepare for, find and keep work.

For a government that wants to cut taxes to boost growth, today’s figures also spell trouble.  If we don’t do more to help more people into work, then any tax cuts will just lead to even higher inflation and higher interest rates for longer.”

Read the detailed IES Labour Market Statistics briefing note here.