Fall in unemployment brings cautious response from industry


The number of unemployed people in the UK fell by 52,000 to 1.64m between April and June, according official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, published this morning, reveals the UK’s unemployment rate stayed at 4.9%.

The figures also show for the month of July, the first full month since the UK voted to leave the European Union, there were 763,600 people claiming unemployment-related benefits, 8,600 fewer than for June 2016 and 27,100 fewer than for the corresponding period last year.

Over the period, 31.75m people in work, 172,000 more than for January to March 2016 and 606,000 more than for a year earlier.

Commenting on the figures, John Salt, group sales director of job site totaljobs, said it was positive to see unemployment fall again, particularly as the latest figures contain data from the post-EU referendum.

“It seems that businesses remain confident and this is certainly a sentiment we’ve seen echoed in our own data, which found that almost half (44%) of UK businesses say that Brexit won’t affect the number of people they hire.

“However, it would be naïve to assume that the UK job market has successfully navigated the stormy waters caused by Brexit. Our August Totaljobs Employment Index revealed that the number of applications per job, a measurement of job competitiveness, is up 14% year-on-year. Therefore, the new government must continue to do all it can to create conditions where businesses of all sizes will be encouraged to keep on hiring.”

Meanwhile, Mariano Mamertino, economist at job site Indeed, said the figures paint a “reassuring” picture of the jobs market in the final months before the referendum, with unemployment edging down and the number of people in work rising.

“But it fails to adequately capture the chilling effect that pre-referendum nerves had on employers, which led many to defer hiring decisions and halt pay rises,” he added.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of career site CV-Library, said it was great to see that the job market is still doing well. “The latest labour market statistics mirror our own data, which showed an 11.3% increase in job vacancies and an even greater rise in candidate applications at 13.2% in the same period. Increased candidate interest is crucial for long-term business sustainability, particularly as the UK embarks on its exit from the EU.”

Recruitment & Employment Confederation chief executive Kevin Green said today’s figures show the UK jobs market fundamentals are strong and this puts the UK in a good position to bounce back from the initial shock from Brexit.

“Our Report on Jobs data for July showed a drop in permanent hiring immediately after the referendum, but it is still too early to draw conclusions about the implications for the vote to leave the EU on the jobs market,” he added.

Also commenting on the figures, Anna Leach, the CBI’s head of economic analysis and surveys, said ahead of Britain’s vote to leave the EU, the UK’s jobs market remained in rude health, though vacancies have continued to tick down since the beginning of the year.

“The Bank of England was right to act swiftly to shore up confidence and keep money flowing through the economy. But businesses now need the government to make ambitious decisions in the Autumn Statement that will secure the UK’s economic future as changes to trade, regulation and access to skills loom on the horizon.”


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