UK employment rises to 29.87 million high

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A recent article in People Management reports that employment has increased by 155,000 to hit a high of 29.87 million for the three months from June to August, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics.

This figure represents both part- and full-time workers, although further ONS research showed that almost 1.5 million people only worked part-time because they could not obtain full-time jobs.

Unemployment dropped by 18,000 to 2.49 million for the same period but youth joblessness remains high at 958,000, with close to one million 16- to 24-year-olds out of work.  The number of people out of work for more than a year fell by 15,000 to 900,000, while people unemployed for between six months to a year rose by 29,000 to 446,000.

Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD, said that while these latest figures showed continuing strong jobs growth, the numbers of young and long-term unemployed remained worryingly high.

“Increased confidence in economic growth is feeding through to the labour market. Recruitment is up and the official number of vacancies is at its highest level since the autumn of 2008. The number of people employed grew by 155,000 in the last quarter yet there is no sign yet of increased demand leading to higher wages across the board– indeed, average earnings in August were unchanged from the previous month and the annual growth rate for the last three months is just 0.7 per cent, two percentage points below the current rate of inflation.”

Beatson highlighted that the headline unemployment measure had “hardly moved”, which he explained was partly due to population growth, a fall in inactive people, which increases labour supply.

“There are now 63,000 less people inactive because of long-term sickness than there were a year ago.  But unemployment does appear to be on the way down; the headline measure is moving very slowly whereas the claimant count fell by 120,000 between June and September.

“But youth unemployment remains stubbornly high, and long-term unemployment has only just begun to fall, so there is a real need to step up efforts to ensure our young and long-term unemployed aren’t left out of the labour market recovery.”

Last week’s OECD Skills Survey, emphasised the need for greater urgency, Beatson added, suggesting that the UK needs to raise its skill levels across the board to remain competitive – especially for those with weaknesses in literacy and numeracy. “These are long-term problems that will not be solved by economic growth alone, but instead threaten to act as a major brake on future long-term growth,” he said.

 

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