15 November 2019
ONS labour market statistics: jobs market stable despite uncertainty and Brexit turmoil

News from REC…

The UK jobs market remained stable in the three months to September with the employment rate down by just 0.1% compared to the previous quarter. Total employment now stands at 76.0%, 0.5% higher than last year, according to new figures from the ONS. The unemployment rate decreased slightly from 3.9% last quarter to 3.8%.

The number of job vacancies continued to fall to 800,000, 18,000 fewer than the previous quarter and 54,000 fewer than the previous year. Last week the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Report on Jobs (RoJ) showed that employers were delaying or cancelling hiring plans amid continued Brexit uncertainty. Employers are looking for a green light to start investing and hiring again as soon as possible.

The REC and its members are calling on all political parties to back policy recommendations to boost the economy and support workers, with a manifesto to make great work happen.


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.”


REC Manifesto

The REC Manifesto is available here. Policy recommendations include:

  1. Accepting that people work in a range of different more flexible ways because it works for them, and designing policy that reflects this new normal. A priority would be to ensure the apprenticeship levy works for flexible workers too.
  2. Acknowledging that people need to be at the heart of the industrial strategy, with a new focus on staff engagement and to promote productivity growth, opportunity and inclusion. The REC wants to work with Government on a new Good Recruitment Taskforce to help drive good recruitment.
  3. Ensuring regulation is fit for purpose, by delaying IR35 changes until it’s clear that compliant firms won’t lose out, with effective regulation of umbrella companies a necessity.
  4. Building an immigration policy that works for our economy and public services by addressing skills and labour shortages.  A temporary visa designed to address key shortages at all pay levels is essential. Also a clear and well run work permits system.
  5. Engaging with business on making sure the UK is ready for the work of the future, and that public policy can keep step.
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