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Employment and wages edge up, but competition is still rife

Gerwyn Davies, Labour Market Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) comments as follows on official labour market statistics published earlier today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS):

“Today’s headline employment and pay figures all seem to be pointing in the same positive direction, but beneath the surface a more nuanced picture emerges.  On the upside, it’s encouraging to see such a high proportion of people moving into full-time jobs.  However, while the employment statistics are improving, they are somewhat flattered by the tail end of increases in demand for labour earlier this year with the past two monthly increases limited to a trickle.

“News that wages have risen relatively sharply compared with last month and are now approaching parity with inflation is good news for people in work.  However, it will be a few months yet before we see whether this is a sign that employers have caught the Christmas spirit early or if this is the beginning of the long-awaited, long-term boost to pay packets we’ve been hoping to see. Indeed, with so many applicants chasing jobs, it is easy to see why basic pay growth remains well below pre-recession levels. As the CIPD reported earlier this week, employers are currently receiving 60 applicants for every low-skilled job, and 20 applicants for every high-skilled job.

Davies continues: “While there are signs that the conditions for productivity growth are starting to come into place, real improvements will rely on firms finding the way to help employees work smarter, not just harder. Truly productive workplaces will be the ones that deliver smarter working by paying close attention to effective people management practices that put an emphasis on employee involvement and participation”.  

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