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Ian Brinkley
Economic Advisor
Ian Brinkley

New Labour Market Statistics - February

Authors: Ian Brinkley

17 February 2016

These are another set of good figures, with yet another big rise in employment driven equally by an increase in full time permanent employees and in self-employment. As a result, unemployment has declined. These figure cover the last quarter of 2015, so will not reflect recent concerns over the state of the world economy and the financial sector.

Wage increases remain modest, but with inflation still very low real wages will continue to recover for many. But it would not take much of an increase in prices for us to return to the days of zero or close to zero real wage increases.

However, the number of “economically inactive” of working age who say they want a job (but are not counted as unemployed) remains obdurately high at 2.2 million and is significantly higher than those included in the official definition of unemployment, at 1.7 million. We also still have over 1.2 million people in part time jobs who would like full time work.  One reason why wages have not increased despite low levels of unemployment is that there is more slack in the labour market than we think (see the Bell-Blanchflower Underemployment Index)".