Latest Employment Data

Date : 15 September 2020

Employment data is now available from ONS, covering up to July 2020 for some measures. This shows a labour market in the UK responding to coronavirus and to other challenges e.g. EU Exit, structural change.

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Overall, demand for labour seems to be picking up a little, with the UK workforce working more hours in June than in May, although activity is still well below the usual levels. The number of unfilled job vacancies is also rising, modestly.

Employment apparently remains robust, although employed includes those on furlough – as further data comes in, it will be possible to see how many furloughed workers have moved back into work and how many have been made redundant as the furlough scheme comes to an end.

Redundancies have picked up, with 156,000 people losing jobs in the latest month. Recent research from the Institute for Employment Studies suggests that redundancies will increase further over Q3 and Q4.

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The rate of unemployment has risen slightly to 4.1%. However, the number of claimants i.e. those claiming Universal Credit or Job Seekers’ Allowance) has risen much faster and this may be a better measure of socio-economic stress.

Interestingly, there has been an increase in the number of young adults in employment since the Spring. This is encouraging, since it was young adults that suffered most in previous periods of economic turmoil.

The government’s Kick Start programme is intended to help young adults to find and keep their first job, but it is too early for any benefits to show up in employment data. It may be that young adults are choosing to find work rather than pursuing further education.

Less promisingly, young adults also account for the bulk of increased unemployment – this may represent those finding places in neither education nor work (the so-called “NEETs”).