Record number of people not working due to long-term sickness, new stats out today showed.
Public sector pay is at its highest in 20 years while vacancy numbers and payrolled employees are down.
Danni Hewson, AJ Bell head of financial analysis, comments on the latest UK jobs figures: “During the pandemic the self-employed rushed to the safety and security of payrolled positions, but as vacancy numbers fall and businesses grow less confident about the future, the jobs market is changing.
“Entrepreneurs are returning to their self-employed ventures and the number of people taking on part-time positions has shot up.
“Life is getting back to what resembles a pre-Covid ‘normal’ and many people with caring responsibilities are hard-pressed to work full-time, especially as some businesses pull people back into the office.
“Vacancy numbers have fallen for the tenth month in a row. Some businesses are now back at pre-Covid capacity, others are too nervous about the country’s economic future to make long-term hiring plans.
“But there are still more struggling to get the skilled staff they need and that will continue to hamper productivity and economic growth.
“With inflation still sky high the focus remains on wage growth and whilst the public sector has lagged, its private counterpart’s wages have shot up by a number not seen for twenty years.
“Industrial disputes have been fuelled by the simple fact that even at 5.6% growth wages aren’t keeping up with inflation and day to day life has become harder and harder to fund.
“Covid also seems to have played a major part in economic inactivity and though younger people are returning or heading into the workplace the number of people on long-term sick leave has reached a record high.
“Perching on uncomfortable kitchen chairs or balancing over an ironing board which is doubling up as a desk didn’t do the nation’s backs any favours and the devastating impact of long Covid and mental health issues are also making it impossible for some people to do their jobs.
“And many of those people might just have the skills desperately needed by some employers.
“It’s an issue that needs further attention, but with the NHS fighting its own post-Covid battles it’s also an issue that looks incredibly difficult to resolve.”