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Employment Reaches A New High

Employment Reaches A New High

The number of people in employment has reached a record high of 29.78 million, with a rise of 300,000 over the last year, according to figures released today. More than two thirds of the rise has been amongst UK nationals.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the growth in employment has been fuelled by a rise in permanent jobs: up 110,000 over the last three months.

The growth in employment is accompanied by a drop of 4,000 in the number of people classed as unemployed over the last three months. The level is now 49,000 lower than this time last year.

Today’s independent figures also show that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has fallen for the ninth month in a row - and is now at its lowest level since February 2009.  The number of people signing on fell in every region and nation of the UK for the third month in a row.

Today’s statistics also show a continued growth in the number of vacancies, with more than half a million currently available – an increase of 12% over the past year.

Minister for Pensions Steve Webbsaid:  "Today's figures show a record high employment level – with more women in work than ever before.

“This growth has been driven by a rise in permanent, private sector jobs, which suggests businesses are feeling positive about the future.”

Minister for Employment Mark Hobansaid:  “With 29,000 fewer people claiming Jobseekers Allowance compared to this time last month, and more people in work than ever before, today’s figures paint a positive picture of the UK labour market.

“There are now more jobs available than at any time since the end of 2008, and more hours being worked than ever before - which shows that there are opportunities out there for people who want to work and get on in life.”

CEO of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation Kevin Greensays: “The important indicators seem to be moving in the right direction. More jobs have been created and more people are in work. The UK labour market has performed incredibly well over the last few years, meaning we are not experiencing the devastating levels of mass unemployment seen elsewhere in Europe. Our data from recruiters indicates employment levels will increase for the rest of 2013. However we should not be complacent as we still have worryingly high numbers of long term unemployed and young people out of work.

“The concern for people who have been out of work for over a year is that even when new jobs become available they often won’t have the skills, experience or confidence to take advantage of those opportunities.

“Mark Carney and the Bank of England’s move to tie monetary policy to unemployment levels recognises the importance of the labour market as an indicator of economic success. It is right that decisions around fiscal policy are not taken in isolation from people’s real life experiences of work.”

Stephen Gifford, CBI Director of Economics, said: “We can take some confidence from the number of full-time employees edging up again and the substantial drop in temporary employment.

“Too many still face the reality of being out of work and youth unemployment remains stubbornly high.

“While it’s encouraging that fewer people are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, it’s simply too soon for recent promising GDP figures to start filtering through to the job market in any material way.”

Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD, said: “Today’s figures are modest good news for the labour market with increased employment and a small reduction in the headline measure of unemployment.  We can expect some variation in the figures from month to month, but faster economic growth in the second quarter of this year has fed through into more jobs.  Forward-looking measures, such as our summer 2013 Labour Market Outlook survey, suggest we should see further increases in employment during the summer and autumn.

“Increasing labour supply means it is likely that unemployment falls slowly in the short-term.  The extent to which further economic growth will be possible without triggering a rise in interest rates will depend on how successful the economy is at getting young people and the long-term unemployed into work.  If this does not happen, we could see competition for the right people pushing wages and costs up while unemployment remains high.

“The number of 16 to 24 year olds unemployed rose by 15,000 over the quarter to 973,000.  With more than 300,000 school leavers due to collect their exam results tomorrow, it’s crunch time for many young people. Data released today by the Confederation of British Industry and Pearson, highlights that the lack of work experience is a real issue – with 70 per cent of employed young people highlighting that they “lacked relevant work experience”. For many, this is making the prospect of finding work an impossible task and highlights the need for employers to engage with this issue. The CIPD Learning to Work programme is seeking to increase the number of access routes being offered to young people by employers, and provides guidance on implementing high quality work experience opportunities, apprenticeships and internships. We are also working with the Education and Employers Taskforce on Inspiring the Future– an initiative to get HR professionals to volunteer to go into schools to help young people to become more work ready. Over the summer, CIPD volunteers have engaged with more than 2,000 young people across the country, providing CV advice and mock interviews.

“The number of people unemployed for over a year also increased by 7,000 over the quarter to 909,000.  It usually takes time falling total unemployment to feed through into falling long-term unemployment but we should not be complacent.  Our spring 2013 Labour Market Outlook survey showed that many employers think the long-term unemployed lack skills and recent experience.  The Work Programme and other assistance have a vital role to play in helping the long-term unemployed compete for the jobs available and there is a need to improve outcomes based on early evaluation of their impact.  Looking ahead, the introduction of Universal Credit will be a major change.  While it potentially improves the incentives to find work, many long-term unemployed are bound to be worried about the risk that teething troubles with its implementation will leave them out of pocket if they do find work.  Government needs to pay careful attention to implementation and provide early reassurance that success in finding a job will not be accompanied by problems in accessing in-work benefits”.

Nigel Meager, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, comments on today's ONS Labour Market Statistics: & lsquo;Today's data release from the Office of National Statistics is broadly positive, with most of the labour market indicators showing slight improvements.

& lsquo;The official headline unemployment figure fell very slightly over the quarter (by 4,000), and there was also a fall of 29,000 in the monthly claimant count figure. Unfilled vacancies recorded another slight increase over the quarter, a further sign of labour demand picking up.

& lsquo;These small signs of improvement are consistent with the recently recorded upturn in GDP growth data.

& lsquo;It's not all good news, however. We should that although unemployment didn't rise by nearly as much as most economists expected during the current economic depression, it still surged by nearly a million and has been stuck at or around the 2.5 million mark for just over four years, and that's where it still is.

& lsquo;One reason unemployment didn't increase further was because real wages fell by an unprecedented amount during this period, and this squeeze on living standards is undoubtedly continuing to dampen the economic upturn. Another reason is because of the well-documented growth in 'under-employment', manifested in zero-hours contracts, involuntary part-time work, casual work and the like.

& lsquo;The flip side of this coin is that as economic growth returns, it may take a while to feed through into big falls in unemployment because there are already large numbers of people in work willing or even desperate, to increase their working hours. Consistent with this, it's interesting to note that while total employment has increased by 1.0% over the past year, total hours worked in the economy have increased twice as fast (by 2.0%).’

Flora Lowther, head of research at Adzuna, comments: “The jobs market is building up a real head of steam, which is helping drive the UK’s economic rehabilitation. Wage growth still lags significantly behind inflation, but hiring is picking up, most notably in the manufacturing and construction sectors – which are both vital to the economic recovery. Even in the much-maligned manufacturing sector, vacancies are higher than a year ago, while construction vacancies are up 9% suggesting output in these sectors will continue to increase back towards their pre-2008 levels.

“Confidence is coursing through the labour market, with employers increasingly convinced the worst of the economic downturn is in the past.  Firms are creating more vacancies, although the majority of them are in more affluent southern areas.  45% of current vacancies are in London and the South East even though only 27% of the UK population live there, suggesting the north isn’t sharing in the fruits of recovery but being starved of the jobs needed to help close the economic north-south divide.

“Barring any major shocks, unemployment should continue to fall towards the 7% level earmarked by the Bank of England as the trigger for interest-rate rises.”

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