19 February 2019
UK labour market remains resilient, but fear remains of lower growth in the future

Today’s labour market statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the number of vacancies at 870,000 for November 2018 to January 2019 – 16,000 more than for August to October 2018 and 46,000 more than a year earlier. This was the highest estimate since comparable records began in 2001.

The unemployment rate was estimated at 4.0%, it has not been lower since December 1974 to February 1975. There were an estimated 1.36 million unemployed people, 14,000 fewer than for July to September 2018 and 100,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

The employment rate was at 75.8%, higher than for a year earlier (75.2%) and the joint-highest since comparable estimates began in 1971. There were an estimated 32.60 million people in work, 167,000 more than for July to September 2018 and 444,000 more than for a year earlier.

Average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in real terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation) increased by 1.2% excluding bonuses, and by 1.3% including bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) director of policy, Tom Hadley commenting on ONS figures:

“Today’s figures once again highlight the resilience of the UK jobs market, with record vacancies and numbers of people in work. However, we cannot take this for granted as our JobsOutlook data shows a significant downturn in businesses confidence in the UK economy which is already impacting on future hiring intentions.

“There is a real fear, as we are seeing in the UK manufacturing industry, that we will see lower growth and fewer opportunities in the future. The political uncertainty surrounding our future relationship with the EU is only compounding matters and putting off businesses from making future hiring plans and deterring foreign companies from investing in the UK. The sooner employers get some clarity, the better it will be for our jobs market.

“On a positive note, the record number of vacancies shows that opportunities are there for job-seekers at present. The challenge in many sectors is finding the right candidates to fills these roles which is why recruitment professionals are playing an increasingly pivotal role in supporting employers to innovate and adapt their hiring strategies to an uncertain and evolving landscape.”
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