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Employment hits record 32.7m in work

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New figures reveal that a record 32.7m are in full time work and self employment over the last year.

Employment has reached the highest Since records began in 1971, employment soared by 179,000 in the three months to February to 32.7m.

Over the last year the number has increased by 457,000, although the number of workers in part time work dropped by 15,000, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Unemployment dropped by 27,000 to 1.34m continuing the trend since early 2012, unemployment rate in the UK is now 39.5% lower since the end of 1975.

Earnings have increased by 3.5% in the year to February, outpacing inflation. When adjusted for inflation, salaries to include bonuses rose by 1.6% for the year, the highest since 2016.

Economically inactive people dropped by 114,000 in the last quarter to 8.53m, the number of vacancies is the same at 852,000.

Matt Hughes, ONS deputy head of labour market statistics said, “The jobs market remains robust, with the number of people in work continuing to grow.

“The increase over the past year is all coming from full-timers, both employees and the self-employed.

“Earnings have now been growing ahead of inflation for over a year, but in real terms, wage levels have not yet returned to their pre-downturn peak.”

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman Mike Cherry said, “At a time when political uncertainty is making it impossible to plan and operating costs are spiralling, a tight labour market represents yet another headache for small business owners.

“One in five small UK employers rely on staff from the EU. The sharp drop in European arrivals is a real concern for many smaller firms, particularly those in sectors such as construction, care and engineering where the contribution of EU team members is so vital. One in three small firms now say lack of access to the right personnel is a major barrier to growth.

“To make matters worse, EU staff are up against a settled status programme beset by glitches, data breaches and poor accessibility on phones. Whilst we welcome the roll-out of a scheme that gives EU citizens based in the UK some certainty, reports of practice on the ground have been disappointing. We were told that the process for securing settled status would be straightforward and swift. It’s proving to be anything but.

“The case for the Government to deliver on its pledge of a one-year national insurance holiday for those furthest from the labour market has never been stronger. With skills shortages starting to bite, it’s vital that we are helped to bring more people who are living with a disability, long-term unemployed or ex-offenders into our workforces.”

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said, “The strong increase in employment, coupled with another fall in the number of people out of work, suggests that the UK labour market remains in good order.

“However, behind the strong headline figures a number of key challenges remain.

“Businesses are increasingly reporting that persistent hiring difficulties, cost pressures and ongoing uncertainty are dampening recruitment intentions. If this trend is sustained it could well translate into a weakening in UK jobs growth over the next year.

“Pay growth continues to comfortably outstrip price growth, and in real terms is likely to remain in positive territory for some time to come. However, the combination of a sluggish economy, weak productivity and high upfront costs for business is likely to limit the extent of pay rises.

“The record high number of job vacancies is further confirmation of the perennial skills shortages plaguing UK businesses, which continues to hold back business activity and growth.

“To protect the long-term health of the UK labour market, businesses need answers to key questions on how firms will be able to manage their future workforce needs over the next few years. Brexit has distracted government and Westminster for too long, but much more must be done at home to address the UK’s chronic skills shortage, including easing the burden of upfront business costs to help firms to hire and train staff.”

Pawel Adrjan, UK economist at the global job site indeed said, “With 457,000 more people in work than there were a year ago, one thing stands out amid the breathless pace of job creation; unlike some of the previous surges in employment, Britain’s current jobs boom was not made on the high street.

“In many parts of the country, the retail sector has been a passenger at best. Analysis of the hundreds of thousands of jobs listed on Indeed shows the retail industry’s share of vacancies has fallen steadily. In the first quarter of 2019, they accounted for just 1.7% of all jobs, down from 2.2% during the same period in 2017.

“Customer-facing retail jobs have been hardest hit as shopping patterns change, and more people do more of their shopping online.

“The areas where retail jobs are disappearing fastest are Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Bristol and Suffolk.

“At the other end of the scale, just five areas have experienced growth in the share of customer-facing retail vacancies: County Down and Country Antrim in Northern Ireland, West Lothian and Glasgow in Scotland and Swansea in Wales.

“The retail sector is the most visible and relatable sector of the economy, but this latest data shows its declining fortunes are hampering its ability to create jobs.”




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