UK labour market still in the doldrums?

Press Releases

17 Apr 2013

IES Director, Nigel Meager, commented on today's labour force statistics:

‘Today's data from the Office of National Statistics show that the long-awaited recovery in the UK labour market may still be some way off.

‘Nearly all the headline indicators recorded little change; the recent employment growth seems to have fizzled out, and there is virtually no change in total hours worked in the economy, or in new vacancies recorded by employers. Although claimant count unemployment fell slightly, the broader official measure of unemployment increased by 70,000 over the previous quarter and still stands at 2.56 million.

‘Much recent commentary has focused on the apparent resilience of the UK labour market, and the strong performance in total employment. It's worth stressing though that the employment rate at 71% is still below its pre-recession level, and the recent jobs growth has been at the expense of a poor productivity performance, which may harm the UK's longer-term growth prospects. Recent employment growth has relied heavily on under-employed part-timers, and precarious self-employment.

‘Looking beyond these small month-to-month movements in the official statistics, the overall picture remains one of stagnation. Unemployment has been stuck at around 2.5 million for nearly four years, a million higher than pre-recession levels, and the employment rate has been stuck in the 70-71% range for a similar period. The stark fact is that although the labour market wasn't hit as badly this time round as in previous recessions, it has taken much longer to recover, and the light at the end of the tunnel remains rather dim.’


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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.