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ONS Employment Statistics And Comment

ONS Employment Statistics And Comment

Private sector employment has hit a new record high, according to official statistics published today. There are 1.3 million more people in private sector jobs than in early 2010.

The figures from the Office of National Statistics show that more people are in work than ever before and that private sector employment is up 46,000 on the quarter, which more than offsets the 22,000 fall in public sector employment over the same period.

The statistics also show:

Employment has risen by 24,000 over the last three months, with the majority being fulltime jobs.

Unemployment is down by 5,000 over the quarter with the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance falling for the seventh month in a row. 

The number of people claiming the main out of work benefits is now 300,000 lower than it was in May 2010.

Youth unemployment is also down 43,000, with the youth claimant count lower than in May 2010. The number of young people claiming JSA has fallen every month over the last year.

Mark Hoban, Employment Minister said:“It’s a credit to the growth of British businesses up and down the country that we now have a record number of people employed in the private sector. Our priority is getting people back into work and today’s figures show we have more people in work than ever before, more women in work than ever before, and more hours worked in the economy than ever before.

“With the number of people in work increasing, and unemployment down, these are welcome figures. The fact that youth unemployment is also down is a positive sign. But we are not complacent - through schemes like the Work Programme and the Youth Contract we will continue to help people find the jobs they need so they can realise their aspiration of looking after themselves and their families and help the country compete in the global race.”

Today’s statistics show that the UK’s employment rate of 71.5% is better than the USA, where it stands at 67%, and the EU and Eurozone where is it is around 64%.

There were more than half a million job vacancies in the UK between March and May 2013 - the highest number since the end of 2008 - and 48,000 more than this time last year.

Background to labour market statistics: June 2013

This month's Labour Force Survey covers February to April 2013. The claimant count is for May 2013 and the vacancy count for March to May 2013.

The number of people in work rose this quarter, and there are more people in work than ever before

29.76 million people were in work in February to April 2013

The employment level rose 24 thousand on the previous quarter and 432 thousand on the year

The employment rate is 71.5%, down 0.1 points on the quarter but up 0.7 points on the year.

ILO unemployment fell this quarter

2.51 million people were ILO unemployed in the February to April 2013 quarter, down 5 thousand on the previous quarter and 88 thousand on the year.

The ILO unemployment rate is 7.8%, unchanged on the quarter and down 0.4 points on the year.

The level of economic inactivity is up on the quarter but down on the year.

The economic inactivity level is 8.99 million in the February to April 2013 quarter, up 40 thousand on the previous quarter but down 199 thousand on the year.

The economic inactivity rate is 22.4%, up 0.1 points on the quarter but down 0.5 points on the year.

Excluding students, inactivity as a share of the 16-64 population is 16.8%, unchanged on the quarter and down 0.6 points on the year.

The number of people on JSA fell this month, and the number claiming one of the other main out-of-work benefits is also improving

Claimant unemployment was 1,508 thousand in May 2013, down 8.6 thousand on the month and down 87.6 thousand on the year.

The claimant count rate is 4.5%, unchanged on the month and down 0.3 points on the year.

The figures continue to be affected by welfare reform, including re-assessment of existing claims for incapacity benefits.  This is likely to have added to the JSA caseload between May and April 2013.

In the year to November 2012, the number claiming incapacity benefits fell 75,640 to 2.50 million. The most recent provisional figure for April 2013 suggests the caseload has since fallen further to 2.47 million.

In the year to November 2012, the number of lone parents on income support fell 71,056 to 510,060. The provisional figure for April 2013 is 500,000, suggesting that the numbers are continuing to fall

The number of redundancies rose and unfilled vacancies rose on the quarter

There were 141 thousand redundancies in February to April 2013, up 9 thousand on the previous quarter but down 14 thousand on the year.

•NS' vacancy survey estimates an average of 516 thousand unfilled vacancies in the three months to May 2013, up 19 thousand on the previous quarter and 48 thousand on the year.

Total weekly pay in April 2013 was up by 1.3% over the year

Growth in regular weekly pay, excluding bonuses, was up by 0.9% on the year

Peter Searle, CEO of Adecco Group UK & Ireland: “Britain still faces unacceptable levels of youth unemployment and urgent action is required to get young people into work.  Greater commitment is required from businesses to create relevant work experience opportunities, and employers need to be more engaged in education. This will ensure that young people gain the employability skills so desperately needed. We have done little as a nation to tackle the issue, and unless there is a structured collaboration between employers, education and the Government, we risk a lost generation of job seekers who are excluded, possibly permanently, from employment”

Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, comments on today’s ONS employment figures: “This month’s figures support our own job market indicator which shows that growth in permanent employment is at a six month high. Four hundred thousand more people are in employment now than this time last year, proving the resilience of UK’s labour market.  

“Even though salaries haven’t risen above inflation yet, we are seeing starting salaries to go up especially in high growth sectors such as engineering and IT. While workers are inevitably feeling the pinch, it’s better for people, as well as the economy, to be in a job with slow wage growth than struggling on benefits.”

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said: "It’s encouraging to see businesses feel able to pay people a little more through one-off bonuses, as economic conditions appear to have brightened. The use of bonuses rather than base pay awards suggests firms are still being cautious.

"The labour market always lags a few months behind the economy, so it’s not surprising that overall, the picture on unemployment remains fairly flat.

“However, we expect to see improving economic conditions making a more positive impact on job creation later this year and it’s encouraging that once again the private sector more than offset the number of positions lost in the public sector during the first quarter.”

IES Director of Research, Jim Hillage, says: 'Today’s data from the Office of National Statistics show that the labour market continues to stagnate, with a small increase in the number of people in employment and a small fall in unemployment. However, beneath the doldrums, the long-term currents underpinning the labour market are moving and this month sees a further rise in the number of older people in employment that takes the total to over one million for the first time.

'Unemployment continues to be stuck at around 2.5 million, eight per cent of the labour force. Despite recent signs that the economy is starting to improve, unemployment show no signs of falling significantly in the near future. There is still a lot of slack in the labour market and it is clear that it will be a long time until the jobless total returns to pre-recession levels.

'Meanwhile, the total number of people in employment continues to reach record levels although the employment rate has actually fallen to 71.5%, again well below pre-recession levels, as the overall population increases. Yet some underlying structural changes in the labour market continue. Significantly, the number of employed people aged 65 or over has reached 1,003,000. While this reflects a welcome willingness among employers to recruit and retain experienced people, it may also reflect the need that some older people have to top up inadequate pension arrangements.'

Jamie Horton, Managing Director, Comensura, reacts to today’s ONS statistics  “Today’s ONS stats further highlighted the fact that the number of people over 65 in employment is increasing. This is particularly true in the public sector, where our recent Comensura Government Indexshowed a year on year increase of 25.6% of over 65s (between January - March 2012 vs January - March 2013) in temporary labour within the public sector.  

“According to the ONS stats, while the number over 65s in employment has increased permanent employment within the public sector is still declining, by as much as 22,000 in the first quarter of 2013. The aging workforce presents a number of challenges for the public sector, including workforce flexibility, productivity, succession planning and development. However, it also presents a number of opportunities, including access to highly skilled and experienced workers who can add real value and play a fundamental role in skills transfer and mentoring.

“Amid current economic uncertainty and the decline in permanent employment within the public sector, there is a definite need for Local Authorities to be more flexible with their workforce planning. The difficulties encountered in recruitment due to the current economic climate and employment downturn means that Local Authorities are increasingly demanding skilled and experienced labour on a short term basis and are becoming more reliant on older workers. The number of over 65s in employment means that there is availability in the workforce to meet this demand. However, there is a need for an integrated and coherent strategy, which will help develop the capability and expertise within the public sector. This will ensure effective use and management of older workers and ensure the sector benefits fully from the skills and experience it needs now. Plus, provide a framework to plan and develop younger workers to progress and meet their medium to long-term skill requirements.”  

Flora Lowther, head of research at Adzuna, commented: “Employment levels have risen marginally and our data shows current vacancies are up 1.4% in the 6 months to May to 460,493, suggesting the economy has an improved capacity for more job creation. We expect the number of those in work to rise marginally in June as a result of the increase in vacancies. The private sector is driving the labour market, but it is driving it fairly slowly. The Adzuna data indicates that businesses are trying to build up their cash balances as a buffer to the tough economic climate and so are hiring staff at low wage levels, and keeping a lid on the wages of existing staff.  Advertised salaries have increased by just 0.5% over the past six months – well below the rate of inflation – so have been falling in real terms. The current average salary for an advertised job is &pound33,617, just 0.1% lower than in April. Advertised salaries in the consultancy sector have fallen 10%, and manufacturing salaries have fallen 12% over the past six months. The brightest spot is the IT sector, where advertised salaries have increased 5% over past 6 months.”


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