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ONS Figures - Comments

ONS Figures - Comments

Tom Hadley, Director of Policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, comments on today’s ONS employment figures:

“The rise in unemployment may appear to be a blow to the Chancellor on Budget day, but it’s important to recognise that the number of people who found jobs increased as well.

“More people are working than ever before but the government can’t afford to be complacent about the jobs market, or the month on month increases in employment numbers won’t be sustainable.

“The IT and engineering sectors still urgently need skilled workers to support infrastructure developments that could boost growth. There’s also significant shortage of skilled workers in other sectors such as drivers and sales too.  Today’s Budget needs to deliver investment in training and apprenticeship opportunities to help people who currently don’t possess the right skills for available jobs.

“What we don’t want to see this afternoon is MPs on either side playing politics with the labour market or talking down the economy when business confidence is so important.” 

Employment is on the rise again, but young people continue to miss out


Commenting on the latest ONS Labour Market statistics, released today, Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: “This month’s figures continue the trend that we have seen for the last year or so.  The number of people employed has increased again to record levels – although the employment rate still remains below its pre-recession peak – and this has happened during a period when we have seen little evidence of economic growth.  The number of unemployed people has increased slightly but this could be the result of welfare to work changes intensifying job search activity among those out of work and claiming benefits, and in the long term this should be beneficial to the economy by boosting labour supply.

“One of the explanations as to why employment has continued to grow is the declining real value of earnings.  The annual rate of growth of average earnings was 1.2% in January, which was 1.5 percentage points below the rate of inflation.  As a result, those in work continue to see their living standards squeezed.

“It will be interesting to see whether the forecast accompanying today’s Budget from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility anticipates employment growth on this scale to continue when economic growth resumes, or whether they expect productivity to increase and more moderate rates of employment growth.

“The employment figures for 16-24 year olds remain a matter for concern.  The total number of unemployed 16-24 year olds has increased since last month’s figures.  Young people appear to be missing out on the jobs growth we have seen, risking the future supply of talent and potentially leaving a permanent scar on the UK labour market. The mismatch between young people’s behaviour and employer expectations at the recruitment stage is part of the problem and via our Learning to Workprogramme we are seeking to address this disconnect.”


The CBI today commented on the latest official labour market data, showing that employment rose by 131,000 in the three months to January and unemployment also rose, by 7,000.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment & Skills, said: “Unemployment has dropped over the past year but the pace of progress has stalled due to sluggish economic performance.

“This emphasises the need for the Government to deliver growth-enhancing measures on housing, infrastructure and access to finance.

“There are some hopeful signs - the private sector created over seven times as many jobs as were lost in the public sector in the last quarter of 2012 and recent growth in employment has been increasingly full-time, rather than part-time.”

Commenting on the labour market figures published today by the ONS, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Despite the slight rise in unemployment, it is encouraging to see that conditions in the UK jobs market remain robust. Employment continued to grow and the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance has declined. This could suggest that the official GDP figures are overly pessimistic, as they do not seem to tally with either employment figures or our own business surveys.

"Ultimately, the unemployment figures provide further evidence that businesses are doing all they can to support growth and create and retain jobs at a time when the economy remains weak. This is largely due to both businesses and employees retaining flexibility in UK workforces, which they should be commended for. But although businesses are resilient and confident about the months ahead, they can’t do it alone. The government must go all out in the name of growth, and do much more to support the ambitions of UK companies, many of whom will be the wealth creators of tomorrow.”

David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“Following a long period of decline, UK unemployment saw a small increase in the three months to January. There was also a surge in youth unemployment, which takes the total back up to near the one million mark. Despite this, the UK labour market is showing remarkable strength. Employment is up by more than 131,000, inactivity is down and the private sector has yet again proved it is capable of creating jobs while the public sector shrinks. But unless growth drastically improves, the private sector may not be able to continue creating enough jobs to meet the needs of the economy.

“The positive message we can take from these figures is that British business is able to drive the recovery despite the challenges still facing the economy, both at home and abroad. However, we still need a clear and effective growth strategy that combines deregulation, measures to support exporters and the early creation of a business bank if we stand a chance of seeing a lasting recovery in the UK.”


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