ONS publish latest employment statistics
Below we have compiled some of your responses to the news.
John Salt, website director at totaljobs.com, commented, “Today’s figures are further proof of economic improvement. Employers should recognise this as a signal to invest in people and take advantage of the recent growth. Jobseekers should now be more confident of finding employment in 2014 as growth forecasts are revised upwards for this year. The government will look to capitalise on this positive data as they continue preparing the next Budget, which should include further incentives for businesses to take on staff.”
Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said, “There has been a significant turnaround in economic confidence over the past year, which has unlocked more jobs, and resulted in unemployment falling consistently for the last 6 months. Unemployment now sits just 0.1% off hitting the 7% marker. It is sounding a loud klaxon through the labour market an advance signal that the government may review its interest rate policy in the very near future.
“But despite the significant rise in the number of Britons in full time employment, many areas of the country are still struggling. The North East remains particularly challenging for jobseekers and the market isn't getting any easier for new graduates. Wages remain an issue too - while sectors such as IT and Engineering have seen significant wage growth in the last 12 months, other sectors continue to stagnate, with little evidence that employers across Britain are willing to up wages in 2014.”
Mark Beatson, chief economist at CIPD, said, “We have recently seen unemployment start to fall quickly and forecasts being revised downwards but, even so, today’s figures are a surprise with the headline unemployment rate falling from 7.4% to 7.1% in a single month. We should remember these figures are statistics with margins of error attached to them and this does not mean we should expect to see falls of this size every month. Nevertheless, today’s figures are consistent with the state of the labour market last autumn. Our own Labour Market Outlook and other labour market surveys have shown consistently increasing confidence and hiring intentions. In addition, the claimant count has been falling quickly ever since the summer and this might now also be feeding through into the headline measure.
“Looking beneath the headline figures, half of the last quarter’s employment growth was due to a sharp increase in self-employment. The number of people who were working part-time because they could not find a full-time job has now started to fall. And probably the best news of all is that we have seen noticeable falls in the number of young people unemployed and the number of people unemployed for over a year.
“Of course, employment growth of this scale suggests that we may find that the fourth quarter of 2013 saw little or no growth in labour productivity. The weakness of productivity growth and the healthy state of the labour market explain why earnings growth remains below 1%, and these figures give little indication there will be any substantial movement in wage growth in the short term. Tackling our long-standing productivity problem requires policy makers, employers and trade unions to engage more closely with each other to find ways of stimulating investment, addressing long-term skill needs and making better use of the skills and talent already available in the workforce.”
Neil Carberry, CBI director of Employment and Skills, said, “These figures show that our jobs market is working well, with unemployment dropping faster than in less flexible countries. It’s particularly encouraging to see so many people finding full-time jobs, with more people moving from part-time to full-time work, and an increase in young people finding jobs as well.
“While the overall picture is very positive, productivity is still below recession levels and not growing, and sustainable increases in wages can only be linked to improved productivity.
"With private sector wages only increasing at 1.2%, a substantially higher rise in the national minimum wage is unlikely to be affordable for many businesses in 2014.“
Jamie Horton, managing director of Comensura, stated, “Today’s ONS stats continue to hint at economic recovery, with overall unemployment levels decreasing by 167,000. Most interestingly we have seen the first rise in public sector permanent employees in four years. While this is very encouraging, it is too early to say if consistent increases in permanent head count will be seen in 2014.
Despite this small increase, the public sector remains cautious and therefore demand for temporary labour is likely to continue. With budgets still being squeezed, there is considerable pressure to keep permanent staff costs to a minimum. This has resulted in better workforce planning and increased flexibility in how the public sector delivers frontline services. It is highly likely that temporary labour and flexible workforce management will continue to be relied upon to ensure public sector bodies are controlling their costs and making more efficient use of their resources.”