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ONS Figures Positive All Round

ONS Figures – Positive All Round

More vacancies available in the UK than at any time since 2008

There are more than half a million job vacancies in the UK – the highest number since 2008, according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics.

There was an increase in unemployment of 15,000 in the three months to March, but the total number of people unemployed is 92,000 lower than a year ago. The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell to its lowest level since May 2011, and youth unemployment fell by 17,000 over the past quarter.

The number of people in work fell by 43,000 compared to the previous quarter.  This reflects falls in part-time and temporary work and people on Government-supported training schemes. Full-time employment rose by 10,000 on the quarter.

Over the past year, the number of people in work has increased by over 430,000. Nearly nine out of ten of these jobs have gone to UK nationals.

Today's statistics also show that there are over 850,000 more people in work than there were in early 2010.

A key measure of the health of the jobs market is the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. This fell by over 7,000 in April, and is down almost 70,000 compared to this time last year. Last month saw the smallest number of new JSA claims for over four years.

The number of young people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell by 6,000 this month, the eleventh consecutive fall.

Today’s statistics also show that the UK’s employment rate, which currently stands at around 71%, compares favourably to US, where it is 67%, and the EU and the Eurozone where it is even lower – at 64%.

Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said: “There are record numbers of women in work, fewer young people unemployed and more vacancies available for those looking for work. We are also seeing continuing falls in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance which is positive. Whilst there has been a disappointing increase in the headline rate of unemployment, we shouldn't forget the progress we are making.

“We are not complacent. To win the global race we need to do all that we can to help people achieve their aspiration to look after themselves and their families.”

COMMENTS

Commenting on employment figures released today by the Office for National Statistics which show employment levels remain stable but a rise in the number of unemployed people, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Head of Policy Kate Shoesmith said:

“Despite the numbers today, recruiters are telling us that they are seeing employer confidence returning, illustrated for instance by the hiring process starting to speed up and decisions about taking people on being made more quickly. We remain optimistic that there will be growth in the jobs market in 2013.

“Mark Hoban is right to acknowledge the growing number of vacancies out there. The emerging challenge that we have is that those people who are out of work, especially the long-term unemployed, don’t have the skills and experience necessary to take advantage of the jobs that are available.”

Peter Searle, Adecco Group – comment on Labour Market Stats “Today’s labour market statistic show there is still a massive number of unemployed 16 to 24 year olds (958,000) - the employment market is still tough for young job seekers. Today’s school leavers and graduates, with less experience and fewer skills or qualifications, are facing a battle for jobs. Young people need to ensure they cast their search wide to increase their chances of getting through application stage and interview.

“To do this, organisations too must deliver greater work experience opportunities which will allow these job seekers to compete on a more level playing field and ensure there is a pipeline of talent for the future.”

John Salt, Website Director at totaljobs.com: “Economic indicators continue to be mixed, which just goes to show that the UK continues to bump along the bottom - with few jobs being created – and we’re far too susceptible to small shocks. The Government will argue that the recovery is a marathon not a sprint but, in either case, we are barely off the start line.”

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment & Skills,said: "Given the challenging economic conditions at the end of last year, it's unsurprising that we're now seeing fewer people in work.

“What's encouraging, however, is that economic conditions seem to be improving and that full time jobs are still being created.

"With these figures showing the highest number of vacancies since 2008, this reflects businesses’ more positive view of the year ahead."

Gerwyn Davies, Labour Market Adviser at the CIPD, comments:“These labour market figures suggest that the labour market recovery appears to have stalled this quarter.  Total hours worked increased marginally in the period January to March but most measures of employment showed falls and pay growth is now well below 1 per cent. Private sector firms are not currently taking on enough staff to offset the contraction in the number of self-employed and public sector workers and the continuing expansion of the UK workforce”. 

“The labour market remains a battleground for jobseekers.  With 5 unemployed people for every vacancy registered with Jobcentre Plus, there are twice as many unemployed people chasing vacancies as before the recession.  Employers need to be aware of the particular impact this has on younger jobseekers. Although youth unemployment has fallen slightly – the one bright spot in today’s figures – CIPD figuresstill show more than forty applicants typically chasing every low-skilled job. That’s why we’re working with employers to take steps to ensure the labour market doesn’t become a “no-go area” for younger job seekers”.

The CIPD’s recent report & lsquo;Employers are from Mars, young people are from Venus: Addressing the young people/jobs mismatch’explored employers’ recruitment practices and highlights the importance of employers ensuring that they don’t inadvertently screen out candidates of different ages or backgrounds for the wrong reasons, for example, by requiring degrees for roles where they are not needed. The report warned that such an approach would marginalise young people most and add to the pool of wasted young talent.

The report also highlighted poor careers advice and guidance in schools as one of core problems. Currently many young people have little understanding of the world of work and don’t know how to improve their chances of finding a job. In order to help overcome this the CIPD is working with the Education and Employers Taskforce on & lsquo;Inspiring the Future’ – an initiative to get HR professionals to volunteer to go into schools to help young people to become more work ready, by offering CV and interview workshops.

Gerwyn Davies added: “Employers may feel like they’re spoilt for choice with so many candidates for every vacancy at the moment. But if this leads them to always go for the safe option of recruiting people like the ones they already have, they risk leaving a demographic hole in their organisation where young people should go. This doesn’t only store up problems for the future, it also can contribute to groupthink organisations where new ideas and new ways of doing things are less likely to thrive, stunting agility and competitiveness”.

Nigel Meager, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, comments on today's ONS Labour Market Statistics:

“Today’s data release from the Office of National Statistics once again contains very little in the way of good news on the jobs front.

“Most headline indicators are worse than the previous quarter’s, although the changes in most cases are quite small. Looking over a slightly longer period, the labour market has been essentially flat for the last four years, and the latest figures suggest no likelihood of early improvement.

“In particular, the total numbers in employment fell over the quarter (by 43,000), and the much-trumpeted jobs growth seen last year seems to have fizzled out, with employment falling for two successive quarters. Both unemployment and economic inactivity increased over the quarter, representing an increase of over 60,000 in people not in work.

 “It’s worth noting that unemployment, which surged by nearly a million at the beginning of the recession, has been stuck at or around the 2.52 million mark for just over four years now. Looking ahead, there are more public sector job losses in the pipeline as spending reductions continue to bite, so turning this poor unemployment performance around will depend almost entirely on job creation in the private sector. Unfortunatel,y the stagnant GDP figures do not provide much optimism on this front. Even when real output growth returns, it may take a while to feed through into significant creation of new jobs, because there are record levels of under-employment with large numbers of people in work willing, or even desperate, to increase their working hours.

“Politicians and others keen to grasp at straws in the latest data may focus on the small fall in the unemployed claimant count (by 7,300), but it’s difficult to draw strong conclusions from this measure which has been heavily influenced by changes in benefit administration and eligibility conditions. Like the headline unemployment figure the claimant count has been essentially flat (at around 1.5 million) for over four years, and the latest small movements don’t change this picture.

“The only real crumb of comfort is that recent months have shown a small but steady increase in job vacancies in the economy, and that trend continued in the most recent figures. The number of unemployed people chasing each vacancy now stands at 5.0, which is down from its peak of 5.8 in late 2011, but still far above its pre-recession levels of just over two unemployed per job vacancy, and there’s no evidence of it yet feeding through into a reduction in total unemployment.”

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