The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released its latest Labour Market Statistics showing that employment rates continue to gradually recover, but wage levels remain low.
A great explanation of the statistics in full can be found here, but some of the highlights that struck us and may be of interest to those working in pay and benefits or recruitment include;
– Unemployment rate is now down to 7.1%. The Bank of England had previously said that there would be no interest rate change until unemployment rates were 7%, but have quickly stated today that there would be no need to raise rates even if jobless rate hits 7% “in the near future”;
– Average Weekly Earnings are still very depressed, but inflation (both RPI and CPI remain weak) suggesting that this downward trend on Average Weekly Earnings will continue this year;
– Average Weekly Earnings figures appear weaker than figures from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. This probably suggests the least wage growth will be for among the lowest earners;
– The largest increase in job numbers were in professional scientific and technical activities (up 137,000 in a year) followed by administrative and support services. We have a mixed view as to whether the fact there are a further 76,000 estate agents from last year is a good thing for the economy, but are also well aware of how little lawyers are liked!
– The figures on full time v part time employment suggest that the trend is reversing and the biggest jobs growth is for full time employees;
– The growth in jobs seems to be driven as much by the fact that employment is up far more than any increase in the number of people in the labour market as a whole (i.e. population increase lower than employment increase) than any real structual changes in the job market.
This all appears to match our experience; the war on talent is coming back at senior and skilled levels, but pay pressures on employers remain weak.