Commenting on today's labour market statistics, Geraint Johnes, director at Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, said:
“The labour market statistics released today reflect a continued strengthening. Employment has risen by some 248000 over the last quarter, and unemployment has fallen by 76000, with an additional large drop in the numbers of people economically inactive - particularly amongst those aged under 25. The overall unemployment rate now stands at 5.6%. The picture of falling unemployment is replicated within most regions - though small increases were recorded in Scotland, Northern Ireland and also in London and the South West.
“Gains have been particularly strong in full-time employment, with numbers increasing by 191000. Of these, 147000 are men. The number of full-time self-employed workers has fallen by 27000, possibly indicating a continued move toward job security.
“Industries performing strongly include construction, the real estate sector, and administrative and support services, all of which experienced job growth in excess of 30000 over the quarter. Meanwhile numbers employed in health and social work declined over the quarter by some 30000.
“The picture on pay remains very mixed. The year on year growth in overall pay has slowed to 1.3% - down on last month's figure and well down on the 2.4% recorded in December of last year. This is largely due to a sharp fall in bonuses in the finance sector, however. If we look at regular pay (excluding bonuses), the average increase has risen to 2.2% and there have been gains of 3% or more in both the finance and the distribution sectors. In manufacturing, there is zero growth of regular pay; including bonuses, pay growth in this sector is now negative. While price inflation remains low, workers can enjoy an increase in real pay - something that they have lacked in recent years - but if, as expected, prices rise further into the year, these gains may well erode. There is certainly little sign of wage pressure in the market, and it still looks as though the rate of unemployment at which we can consider the economy to be at capacity is lower than we might have thought in the days before the recession.
“The general buoyancy of the labour market is further evidenced by an increase in vacancies across almost all sectors - the only exceptions being mining and quarrying, and education.”
Notes to editors
- Geraint Johnes, director and Ian Brinkley, chief economist are both available for interviews, blogs, briefings, analysis, and written comment.
- The Work Foundation transforms people’s experience of work and the labour market through high quality applied research that empowers individuals and influences public policies and organisational practices. The Work Foundation is part of Lancaster University – an alliance that enables both organisations to further enhance their impact.
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