ONS Employment Numbers Positive Steps in The Labour Market?
ONS Employment Numbers – Positive Steps in The Labour Market?
Comment & Opinion from Across Industry
The Minister for Employment has welcomed further signs of improvement to the labour market.
New figures published by the Office for National Statistics today show another rise in employment, up 105,000 to 29.23m (ILO measure). Employment has now been rising since last autumn. This is complemented by another fall in unemployment, down by 45,000 on the quarter, to 2.63 million.
There has also been a fall in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, down 13,700 between March and April 2012. Following a revision to the figures published last month, there was also a fall of 5,400 between February and March. This is despite welfare reforms such as Incapacity Benefit reassessment that are leading to more people who previously claimed other benefits moving onto JSA.
Today’s figures also show signs of improvement in youth unemployment. The number of 16 to 24-year-olds who have left full-time education and are seeking work is now 707,000, down 24,000 on the quarter. The number of full-time students looking for a job is 314,000. This comes at the same time as the Department for Work and Pensions releases figures showing almost 50,000 18 to 24 year olds have undertaken a work experience placement since January 2011.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:
“These figures are a welcome step in the right direction. For a number of months now employment has been growing and this is starting to feed through into improving unemployment figures. However, we still face significant international uncertainty so we need to hold firm on our current economic strategy and continue to do everything we can to ensure unemployment continues to fall.”
Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, comments on the latest ONS employment figures:
“Today’s decrease in unemployment is good news and fits in with our data that shows employers intend to increase their numbers of both permanent and temporary staff over the course of the next year.
“There is employer confidence but it remains fragile with further bad news about the Eurozone risks denting that confidence. We expect to see further volatility in the jobs market in 2012 but flexible working continues to provide opportunities for both jobseekers and employers.
“An additional 118,000 people have entered the labour market in the last quarter, thanks to part-time working options. Part-time work should not be considered as & lsquo;second class’ and many people working part-time are doing so out of choice. It may not be ideal for everyone but it is much better than the alternative of unemployment and benefits. We want as many people contributing to the economy and keeping their skills fresh. Taking on a part-time job can also be a stepping stone to a full-time position that jobseekers really want.
“Workers are increasingly asking their bosses for greater flexibility and we expect this to be a continuing trend in the UK labour market.”
Unemployment figures deliver welcome relief
Figures out today have shown unemployment fell by 45,000 between January and March to 2.63 million. According to recruitment firm Pertemps, in order for growth to continue, firms need to value talent and encourage confidence in the jobs market.
Carmen Watson, Managing Director of Pertemps Network Group, said, “These new figures show that the unemployment situation is moving in the right direction. It is encouraging to see the initiatives implemented by the government to help people get into employment are working. This is the second fall in figures in two months, however it is important to stay focused on the bigger picture of long term reduction of unemployment.”
Carmen concluded, “In the current jobs market more emphasis needs to be placed on talent generation. There are still large sections of society who find it difficult to enter the jobs market. An environment needs to be created where good advice is fed to those trying to find jobs this also includes a focus on skills, training and career development. This attitude must be echoed throughout all sectors. Unemployment will only continue to decrease if employers have confidence in the employees they taking on, be it on a temporary or permanent basis.”
Commenting on the labour market figures published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“With the eurozone crisis worsening and economic pressures facing the UK, these figures are encouraging. Unemployment has fallen and employment has increased. But there are still some worrying features. Youth unemployment, though down, remains above one million which is a jobless rate for young people of more than 20 percent. The number of people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job has risen further to a new record high. And although any rise in employment is positive, the bulk of this increase was made up of part-time jobs and self-employment.
“We should be encouraged by these figures as they show the private sector is able to drive recovery while the public sector continues to shrink. But future challenges cannot be overlooked. The combined effect of the situation in the eurozone and the government’s austerity measures will likely cause future job losses over the next year. Businesses are working hard to expand and grow, but the government needs to do more to help them create jobs. Measures like real de-regulation, and the creation of a business bank to help improve access to finance, will boost confidence and encourage firms to invest and create jobs and growth.”
Nigel Meager, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies commented on today’s jobs figures from the Office of National Statistics:
“The data include some further welcome developments, with another fall in the overall headline unemployment figure, and the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ allowance is also down.
“Employment was up by 105,000, but it is notable that most of this increase was due to people working part-time on a self-employed basis. While the number of employees is still nearly 200,000 below its level of only a year ago, self-employment continues to grow strongly and is at its highest level for several decades, the growth being dominated by part-timers.
“Optimists might claim that this is the early stage of a real recovery, with entrepreneurial start-ups leading the way. Several factors suggest caution in interpreting these data, however. The macro-economy continues to stagnate and employers remain very cautious in hiring, with vacancies at an historically low level and falling again this month. Further, the bulk of the public spending cuts are still to take effect. All this suggests a more pessimistic interpretation of the latest data, which may simply reflect growing numbers of people taking small chunks of freelance or casual work because they are unable to find more secure employment. Until GDP growth resumes to its pre-recession path, and businesses are sufficiently confident to start hiring extra employees in significant numbers, it is too soon to talk of a sustainable jobs recovery.”
The CBI today commented on the latest official labour market data, showing that employment rose by 105,000 in the three months to March, and that unemployment fell by 45,000 on the previous quarter.
Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, said: “The fall in the official unemployment data for a second month running is good news, especially given the troubling economic outlook, and shows employers are feeling more confident about hiring.
“While it is encouraging that people are finding work, the increase in long-term unemployment is a concern. These figures emphasise the need to ensure that the work programme delivers and stops people drifting into inactivity.
“It’s especially good to see a fall in the number of young people out of work, as youth unemployment has been stubbornly high for some time.”
Unemployment falls again but double dip labour market only boosted by & lsquo;part-time odd jobbers’
Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), comments as follows on official labour market statistics for the period January – March 2012 published earlier today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS):
“These are odd figures best explained by a surge in part-time odd jobbing. A sharp quarterly rise of over 100,000 in the number of people in work combined with another welcome fall in joblessness is remarkable for an economy that dipped back into recession at the start of the year. Such an outcome would normally be a sign of economic recovery. However, while optimists might conclude that this casts doubt on the reliability of the most recent official GDP growth figures, a more sober assessment is that a very weak economy is managing to keep unemployment in check only by maintaining a severe squeeze on the size of pay packets and creating enough low productivity work to allow people to avoid the dole by doing the odd part-time job here and there, either as employees or on a casual self-employed basis.
“While a weak double dip labour market might be able to sustain enough odd jobbing to prevent unemployment hitting the 3 million mark, the combination of a growing army of underemployed odd jobbers, 2.63 million people unemployed and pay rises still lagging well behind price inflation suggests that the underlying employment situation is worse than at any point in at least the past two decades.”
Confidence returning to jobs market, says Staffbay.com
Today’s unemployment figures show that there is confidence returning to the jobs market, according to a recruitment specialist.
Tony Wilmot, co-founder of Nottingham-based social media employment site Staffbay.com says that the fall of 45,000 in the jobless total shows that the outlook is good for people seeking work, but there are still issues surrounding youth unemployment.
“With unemployment falling and with part time employment rising 89,000 to 1.4 million, there is definitely light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel for jobseekers,” Tony explains.
“However, we should be complacent there are still problems around certain vulnerable groups of the unemployed, such as young people. There is still more work to be done, particularly for vulnerable groups such as young people.”
Tony adds: “We have 3,000 available jobs nationwide with 2,800 employers actively searching our database for talent before they even advertise. There are definitely opportunities for both employers and jobseekers – it’s just a matter of those with vacancies looking in the right places, and those seeking work presenting themselves in a new and exciting way.”
Gagandeep Prasad, Associate at Charles Russell LLP said:
“These figures will, no doubt, be welcomed by the government, looking for any good news in what is otherwise a bleak economic picture. While any increase in employment rates should certainly be welcomed, it is important to remember that this is a small decrease in a relatively large unemployment figure and that certain sections of society, such as the young and those working in the public sector (many of whom are women), still face a challenging employment environment. It is hoped by some that the planned changes to parental leave announced in the Queen’s Speech last week (that both parents may share parenting responsibility and balance work and family commitments) will help to address this. However, it remains to be seen whether, in reality, fathers will actually take shared parental leave and risk being seen to be less committed to work in the current climate.”