Labour Market Statistics, November 2022
This briefing note sets out analysis of the Labour Market Statistics published this morning. On the face of it, the figures today are almost identical to those published last month: employment remains around one percentage point lower than it was before the pandemic; ‘economic inactivity’ is around one percentage point higher; this is despite more than 1.2 million unfilled vacancies; and while pay has grown strongly, earnings in real terms are falling as high inflation continues to bite.
However, if anything today’s data is even more concerning than recent months – with economic inactivity due to long-term ill health rising above 2.5 million for the first time on record; employment falling for disabled people and older workers; new data on labour market flows suggesting that more people are moving into economic inactivity and spending longer out of work; and pay data showing the gap between public and private sector jobs widening further.
These issues are holding back growth, adding to inflationary pressures and leading to lower living standards for those out of work. They are also not inevitable, as the UK is one of only five developed economies where employment remains lower now than it was before the pandemic.
In our view, taking action on this is long overdue and needs to be a focus of Thursday’s autumn statement. A top priority should be to reinvest the £2 billion in underspends from the Plan for Jobs to help more people back to work, in particular by broadening access to the Restart Scheme and by extending funding for community and local schemes that are closing their doors now as European Social Fund monies run out.
We also believe that there is an opportunity now for longer-term reforms that could support full employment and good work, and are keen to work with others on this through the new Commission on the Future of Employment Support. The Call for Evidence for the Commission is open until 30th January 2023 – please do get in touch if you want to be involved, at www.bit.ly/employment-commission and www.bit.ly/call-for-evidence.