Economics – UK labour market remains very strong

Date : 16 November 2021

The UK labour market continues to strengthen, in spite of increasing economic challenges.

Latest data from ONS shows that there were 1,172,000 unfilled job vacancies in September 2021 – another new record. Job vacancies have expanded consistently, month-on-month since June 2020.

The size of the UK workforce grew to 32.5m. Unemployment remains low, at 4.3% in September 2021, with unemployment for the most vulnerable 16-24 year old age group falling steadily.

ONS reports high levels of labour mobility, with significant movement from unemployment to employment and also strong movement between employers, driven mainly by resignation rather than dismissals.

This suggests that workers recognise that that have strong bargaining power in this market and are willing to change jobs in order to maximise their income.

Unsurprisingly, real wage growth remains strong, by historical standards. Average weekly earnings grew by around 5.8% annually in the latest 3 months (higher in the private sector).

Adjusting “top-line” wage data to account for CPIH inflation and the effect of changing samples, “real” annual wage growth in the 3m ending September 2021 was about 3.1%.

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