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Employment falls in third quarter of 2019, ONS reveals

The ONS has released its latest employment figures. In quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019, employment decreased by 58,000, unemployment decreased by 23,000 and economic inactivity rose by 53,000. From the period November 2018 to January 2019 onwards, employment growth has slowed. Economic inactivity reached a record low in the period November 2018 to February 2019 and showed signs of gradual increase thereafter.

 

The latest UK Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019 saw employment decline by 58,000 to 32.75m, the second rolling quarterly decrease. However, in the year to September 2019, employment increased by 323,000.

 

The level of unemployment fell by 23,000 to 1.31m in quarter 3 2019, while the unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage point to 3.8%. Compared with quarter 3 2018, the level of unemployment decreased by 72,000.

 

The number of people who were economically inactive increased by 53,000 to 8.62 million in quarter 3 2019. The inactivity rate increased by 0.1 percentage point to 20.8% over the same period.

 

In the year to September 2019, nominal total pay (which includes bonus payments) grew by 3.6% to reach £542 per week. Over the same period, nominal regular pay (which excludes bonus payments) grew by 3.6% to reach £508 per week.

 

The number of vacancies in the economy reduced by 11,000 on the quarter to reach 814,000 in quarter 3 (July to Sept) 2019. The number of vacancies reached a peak of 861,000 in the period November 2018 to January 2019 and has been decreasing since then.

 

 

Pawel Adrjan, UK economist at Indeed, commented, “Britain’s economic escape act didn’t extend as far as the labour market. While the economy as a whole dodged the recessionary bullet by returning to growth in the third quarter of the year, the jobs market is slowly succumbing to sliding business confidence. Britain’s job creation boom is running out of steam and the pace of wage growth has slowed. The average worker’s paypacket is now growing at 3.6% a year; less than the brisk 3.9% recorded in the second quarter of the year, but still more than double the rate of consumer inflation.

 

“While this is good news for those already in work, the data is less encouraging for jobseekers. The total number of vacancies has fallen to its lowest level for two years. But with unemployment once again dipping to a 45-year-low, employers in many sectors are still competing hard for the best hires. For employers, this jobs report is less a warning sign and more an expression of their weakening confidence. Economic growth, though still in positive territory, is fragile; and employers are increasingly wary of hiring new staff while the business outlook remains so unclear.”

 

Neil Carberry, CEO at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said, “The UK labour market has shown incredible resilience in the face of uncertainty and political turmoil. This year has seen record numbers of people in work and there are big opportunities out there. But the warning signs are there in the form of slowing jobs growth and falling vacancies while REC data shows skills shortages across a number of sectors like construction and retail. This is why the election in 30 days needs to be about work. There are few things voters consider to be more important than this.

 

REC RoJ data shows that employer confidence in the economy is at a low-point. Businesses are delaying hiring and rolling back investment plans. This is reflected in declining vacancies and rising unemployment. The next government must make reversing this trend a top priority.

 

“This is why our manifesto asks all parties to commit to making great work happen. Putting people at the heart of the industrial strategy – including through good recruitment – is an essential part of addressing the UK’s productivity problem. Our manifesto lays out a number of policy asks which together would support and protect workers while boosting business growth.”

 

Alexandra Sydney, director at Totaljobs, said, “Today’s ONS labour market stats show that vacancies have fallen, yet overall these continue to remain strong compared to historical figures. Despite a drop in the number of people in work, the employment rate is also still higher than a year ago, resulting in a candidate-led market with employers competing to attract the best talent. Our recent survey with Universum of more than 16,000 UK workers has shown that 54% are looking to take advantage of this and change jobs in the next year – and a staggering 38% are looking to change jobs in the next six months.

 

“We know from our research that money isn’t always the key driver in job satisfaction - benefits including clearer progression paths, flexible working styles and making more training opportunities available should be prioritised to create better working environments. With the approaching election and economic uncertainty, employers and employees alike need to take stock of the opportunities available to them.”

 

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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