Employment rate stands at 75.1%, ONS reveals

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between May to July 2017 and August to October 2017, the number of people in work fell, the number of unemployed people also fell, and the number of people aged from 16 to 64 not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) increased.

There were 32.08m people in work, 56,000 fewer than for May to July 2017 but 325,000 more than for a year earlier.

The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 75.1%, lower than for May to July 2017 (75.3%) but higher than for a year earlier (74.4%).

There were 1.43m unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 26,000 fewer than for May to July 2017 and 182,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

The unemployment rate (the proportion of those in work plus those unemployed, that were unemployed) was 4.3%, down from 4.8% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975.

There were 8.86m people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 115,000 more than for May to July 2017 but 56,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive) was 21.5%, higher than for May to July 2017 (21.2%) but lower than for a year earlier (21.7%).

Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.5% including bonuses and by 2.3% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in real terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation) fell by 0.2% including bonuses, and fell by 0.4% excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

totaljobs’ HR director, David Clift, said, “Today’s unemployment figures demonstrate ongoing stability in the British workforce, which is an impressive feat as a turbulent and uncertain 2017 draws to a close.

“This can be seen in the number of jobs being advertised, with a 10% increase in the number of jobs being advertised in the finance and tech sectors respectively.

“In fact, unemployment figures have not been lower since Queen had their Christmas no.1 hit with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in 1975.

“As the world gears up for upcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations, it’s important to reflect on the consistency within the UK job market over the past year. It’s reassuring to enter a new calendar year, safe in the knowledge that we can withstand future uncertainty resulting from pending political and economic changes.”

Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at Robert Half UK, commented, “While unemployment remains low, the skills shortage in specialist positions continues to grow.

“The war for talent to set to intensify yet further, as the adoption of new technology drives demand. Eighty per cent of companies are currently recruiting to support digital transformation projects, with skills such as data analytics, programming and database management in particularly short demand. Already, 74 per cent of CIOs and IT directors frequently face candidates who don’t have the requisite skills for the role they are applying for.

“This is taking place while automation is evolving the nature of some positions. Roles, such as payroll, financial planning and account receivable are expected to modify their requirements as key areas will incorporate automation by 2022.

“To keep up with the changes in the skill demand and role development, businesses could benefit by adopting a flexible recruitment model. Accepting that some positions will be challenging to recruit for on a permanent basis and being open to hiring highly specialised professional on an interim basis, is the best way forward. Having the ability to bring in highly-skilled talent on an as- and when-needed basis to augment the skills of your permanent employees will allow your business the flexibility to encourage innovation as well as skills sharing.”

Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at Indeed, commented, “November’s stumble is looking less like a blip and more like a warning light.

“Britain’s once mighty rate of job creation is waning fast. The number of unemployed people is still falling, but that can hardly be considered a win as many of them are leaving the workforce rather than entering work.

“With official data also confirming that the flow of workers from the EU has slowed since the Brexit referendum, in many areas skill shortages may soon get worse.

“Ordinarily such a tight labour market should drive up wages as recruiters compete with each other to attract talent, but that simply isn’t happening.

“Real wages have now fallen for eight months in a row, meaning the rocketing cost of living is leaving workers more out of pocket every month.

“Depending on whether you’re a glass half full or half empty person, the economy’s abject failure to deliver real wage growth is either a sign of pay rises to come or evidence the labour market is becoming dysfunctional.

“To be fair, strides have been made in 2017. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs have been created, and the lion’s share of them are full, rather than part-time, roles.

“But such progress risks being a footnote to the UK’s brewing wage crisis.”

Recruitment & Employment Confederation chief executive, Kevin Green, stated, “Employment has fallen for the second month running while vacancies are going up. With more people from the EU leaving the country and fewer arriving to work, it’s getting harder for employers to secure the number of people they need to fill roles. If they can’t find candidates, they won’t be able to meet demand, which means there is a risk that they won’t be able to grow and could even end up downsizing, relocating or closing down.

“Employers will need to continue to be resilient in 2018 as candidates are getting scarcer. Our data shows that some hirers are combatting skills shortages by increasing starting salaries to attract candidates, but this isn’t translating to a pay rise for the wider workforce – inflation is still outstripping pay growth by a long way.

“The government needs to take responsibility to ensure employers can plan ahead, be prosperous next year and keep creating jobs for people. What employers need is certainty about their access to EU workers – the transitional deal in the single market and what will happen afterwards – as well as certainty that the EU staff already performing vital jobs for them can stay. The business community will be looking closely at the next round of Brexit negotiations.”

Jason Downes, MD of www.powwownow.co.uk, said, “The UK employment total in the has fallen for the second time in a row. There were 56,000 fewer people in work in July-October quarter compared to the previous three months. This isn’t the most positive result to come in this morning, however it shows how competitive the jobs industry is. I think to combat this figure employees need to stay motivated and offer a unique selling point in order to be an asset to any company. Although this figure could interestingly be decreased as the rise of flexible working  and remote working has come into play more and more people have taken on freelance work”.

Ian Brinkley, acting chief economist at the CIPD, commented, “These figures suggest the UK’s employment engine has begun to splutter. The fall in the total number of people in work, down 0.2%, is primarily driven by a fall in full-time self-employment. Coupled with a fall in unemployment, this appears to point towards constraints in the overall supply of labour rather than a decline in demand. There is a strong possibility that the continued expansion of the labour market has hit its ceiling. In response, employers would be wise to invest more in their existing workforce, especially in light of recent declines in the number of apprenticeships.

“While average earnings figures improved slightly compared to previous quarters, high inflation means that real wages continue to fall which will leave households struggling over Christmas and into the new year. The continued squeeze on living standards shows little sign of abating in the immediate future, though with inflation predicted to fall back towards 2% later in 2018 there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Matthew Percival, CBI head of employment, stated, “The number of people in employment has fallen, but the unemployment rate remains low and there are still opportunities for job seekers with vacancies at a record high.

“Pay growth is picking up a little, but rising inflation means that many people won’t feel the benefit yet. Raising productivity is key to turning this around.  Progress from business and government on the Industrial Strategy must help to raise living standards across all parts of the UK.” 


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