The latest employment data indicate continued growth, but there has been a potentially important shift in the underlying components of this growth. The number of full-time employees fell in the quarter to January-March of this year by some 55000. This fall was offset by a large increase, some 122000 in the number of full-time self-employed workers. The number of employees working part-time also rose, by some 58000. Whether these shifts indicate a longer term increase in precarity will need to be monitored carefully over the coming months. The labour market seems now to be exhibiting signs of nervousness that, given present uncertainties, should not be surprising.

The total number of hours worked rose by around 1% over the quarter. While a good sign in itself, this raises questions about productivity, the most recent data for which indicate a continued fall.

For the second month running, total pay fell in March when compared with the previous month. The annual growth rate of the three month measure is 3.2%, down from 3.5% a month ago. The less reliable single month measure is now down to 2.3%. Real wages are still rising, but slowly.

About the author

Geraint Johnes

Professor of Economics, Lancaster University Management School