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Comment and Opinions on the Latest ONS Labour Market Statistics

Comment and Opinions on the Latest ONS Labour Market Statistics

Employment continues to grow accompanied by a welcome reduction in youth unemployment

Commenting on the latest ONS Labour Market statistics released today, Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: “The latest figures show continued growth in the UK labour market.  The large reduction in unemployment is partly accounted for by an increase in the number of young people who are in full-time education. It is encouraging that young people are taking up opportunities to enhance their skills but youth unemployment still runs at almost 19 per cent. Creating opportunities for young people to learn skills on the job is as important as ever and we welcome today’s announcement by the Government to extend the Youth Contract Employer Wage Incentive. The incentive is a useful way to overcome some of the financial concerns around taking on a young person, particularly for SMEs. However, the Youth Contract only goes so far, to make sustainable progress on tackling youth unemployment we need a mind-set change among employers so that they recognise the long-term business benefits of investing in young people.

“The overall picture shows that employment is increasing at a slower rate than in the early months of 2012 but there are no signs yet of it going into reverse, which is consistent with the data on hiring intentions of employers highlighted in the latest CIPD quarterly Labour Market Outlookreport.

“The new figures for employment in the public and private sectors released today show that job growth in the private sector continues to exceed job reduction in the public sector.  Excluding classification changes, the rate of job loss in the public sector appears to have slowed down marginally in the last couple of quarters.  However, the latest forecasts released with the Autumn Statement, suggest that public sector employment will continue to fall for years to come. Sustainable job recovery will depend on the private sector.”


The CBI today commented on the latest official labour market data, and the Employment Minister’s announcement that eligibility for the Youth Contract will be extended to all young people, not just those on the Work Programme.

Today’s labour market figures show that employment rose by 40,000 in the three months to October, while unemployment dropped by 82,000. In the third quarter of this year the private sector generated 65,000 jobs.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said:

"As we’ve seen throughout 2012, people are continuing to find work despite the lacklustre economy. The private sector has continued to generate jobs, employment is at record levels, and three thousand fewer people were claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance between August and October.

"But dig a little deeper and a huge challenge remains. Private sector jobs growth has tapered off sharply, while the three months to October saw the lowest number of people finding work since the turn of the year. It is deeply troubling that more than a third of unemployed people have now been out of work for more than a year.

"Although 72,000 fewer young people were out of work in three months to October, a fifth of our young people are still unemployed. So we support the Employment Minister’s decision today to extend the youth contract wage incentive to all young people.

"In 2013 unemployment will continue to be a serious problem for everyone in the UK, so there is clearly no room for complacency from the Government – only real and immediate action on infrastructure, investment and exports will generate jobs.”

There are more people working in the UK today than at anytime in our history. Today’s labour market statistics show another increase in the numbers employed taking the total to 29,600,000, up 40,000 on the previous quarter and 500,000 on a year ago.

Almost half of the rise has been among people aged 50 or over, with the fastest rate of increase occurring among those 65 or over, particularly among older women.

There are now almost a million people aged 65 or over in jobs, double the number ten years ago and up 13 per cent over the past year. Although these older workers comprise only three percent of the working population, they account for 20 per cent of the recent growth in employment. However this group has a very different labour market profile to the rest of the working population, particularly younger people, and there is no evidence to suggest older workers are gaining employment at the expense of the young generation.  For example:

30 per cent of older workers (ie aged 65) work in managerial and professional jobs, compared with only nine per cent of younger workers (aged 16 to 24). Conversely 34 per cent of young people work in sales, care and leisure jobs, compared with only 14 of their older counterparts.

Nearly four in ten older workers are self-employed, compared with five per cent of younger workers.

Most (69 per cent) of 65 plus year olds work part-time, compared with 39 per cent of young workers (and 27 per cent of all those in work).

Jim Hillage, Director of Research at the Institute for Employment Studies, explains that:

“There are a number of reasons why older workers are staying on in work. In some cases employers want to retain their skills and experience and encourage them to stay on, albeit on a part-time basis, and most older employees have been working for their employer for at least ten years and often in smaller workplaces. Conversely, some older people have to stay in work as their pensions are inadequate and it is interesting to note that employment of older workers is highest in London and the South East, where living costs are highest. Finally, there is also a growing group of self-employed who still want to retain their work connections and interests.” 

Paul Halliwell, Managing Director of Fish4jobs, comments on the ONS Labour Market Statistics for December 2012.

"There are some signs of improvement in the jobs market, with the latest statistics showing unemployment fell again in the period August to October, down 128,000 annually. With news that practical help is finally on the way for jobseekers in the form of free bus travel for the unemployed, hopefully the first of a series of initiatives, we are confident that the employment rate will continue to increase. Our data also shows there are 15% more live vacancies across the country than this time last year.”


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