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Industry views on ONS report

John Salt, website director of totaljobs.com said, “The UK’s economic recovery continues on the back of more solid growth indicators. This news will encourage jobseekers that the market is ripe for employment and send a message to risk-averse employers to step up recruitment. Christmas will provide a further boost to part time job opportunities as the retail and hospitality industries gear up for the busy festive trading period.”

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, commented, “There’s no question that the situation for jobseekers has improved dramatically over the past year. The number of advertised jobs hit a two-year high in September, and there has also been a significant drop in competition for jobs, with just 1.9 jobseekers per vacancy around the UK compared to 2.3 in 2011.

 “But while the autumn months performed strongly, the outlook for Christmas is beginning to darken.  We’re already seeing the volume of job vacancies easing off in November, ahead of what is typically a slower time on the jobs market.

 “In addition, a strong North-South divide remains. Our last jobs report found that nine of the top ten cities to find a job were in the South of England, where there are fewer than two jobseekers per vacancy. In terms of salaries, there are promising signs for London, the South East and Scotland, as advertised wages are up year-on-year. Growth remains uneven across the country, and some pockets of the UK have experienced a fall in wages.  Average advertised salaries vary from &pound40,062 in London to just &pound26,202 in Wales.”

The Institute for Employment Studies said, “Today's labour market statistics from ONS are very good, and confirm the slow, but steady improvement in the labour market situation, as the economy returns to economic growth.

“All the main indicators have again moved in a positive direction. Unemployment (on both the Labour Force Survey measure and the claimant count measure) is down, employment is up, and importantly full-time employment is now growing strongly. Total hours worked in the economy are increasing, and the level of job vacancies is back up to a level last seen in late 2008, suggesting more buoyant hiring activity from employers.

“All this is good news, but there still a way to go, and getting unemployment down from its current level of 2.45 million to the pre-crisis level of 1.6 million is likely to be a long hard slog, even if the current spurt of GDP growth continues. A key reason is that many businesses have a degree of slack in their workforces they held onto workers during the downturn through the use of shorter working hours and pay freezes or cuts. As things improve they are now able to increase working time for the record numbers of 'involuntary' part-timers who want to work longer hours, and to respond to business growth through increases in labour productivity. It is notable from the latest statistics, that labour productivity is indeed beginning to recover after several years of stagnation, and that while total employment has increased by 1.3% over the last year, total hours worked in the economy have increased by rather more (1.8%).

“Another possible sting in the tail relates to pay. Today's figures tell us that earnings are still failing to keep up with the cost of living indeed, if anything the gap is getting wider. As the economic recovery continues, there is a big question about how long employers can keep the lid on pay levels. Any future wages surge may have a further dampening effect on employment growth.”

Neil Carberry, CBI director of Employment and Skills, said, "Further signs of recovery can clearly be seen in these jobs figures. Unemployment is falling faster and businesses have taken on 124,000 more employees in full-time work. It is really pleasing to see more regions benefiting from job creation. It's clear that pay restraint is continuing to underpin employment growth. We expect wages to pick up next year, but sustained growth must come first to protect jobs.”

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