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UK – Unemployment drops slightly

11 September 2013

The unemployment rate in the United Kingdom fell by -0.4% to 7.7% between May and July, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics. The unemployment rate remains comfortably below the European Union and Eurozone averages, of 11% and 12.1%, respectively. The number of unemployed people was 105,000 lower than the same three month period last year.

Regionally, unemployment dropped in all four countries and was lowest, between May and July 2013, in Northern Ireland, where the rate of unemployment was 6.9%. Unemployment in Scotland was 7.4%, in England 7.7%, and was the highest in Wales with 8%.

The employment rate for those aged between 16 and 64 increased by +0.4% to 71.6% during the period, compared with a year ago. There were an additional 275,000 people employed between May and July 2013, compared with last year.

The highest employment rate was reported in Scotland with 72.4% of the population between 16 and 64 in some form of employment. The Employment rate in England during the period was 71.8%, in Wales 69.3%, and in Northern Ireland it was 67.5%.

Public sector employment across the UK fell by 104,000 jobs in June 2013, compared with Jun 2012. In the period,there were an additional 380,000 jobs created in the private sector, year-on-year. Of those employed, 81% of people work in the private sector and the remaining 19% work in the public sector.

Fewer people, year-on-year, were made redundant between May and July 2013, compared with the same period last year. During the three month period in 2013, 21,000 fewer redundancies took place. The number of job vacancies increased by 53,000 between June and August 2013, from a year ago.

Commenting on the latest statistics, Flora Lowther, head of research at online recruitment search engine Adzuna, said: "The jobs market is slowly gathering steam. Adzuna's real time employment market data suggests the positive trend in advertised vacancies has continued throughout the summer. Competition for jobs in the UK has eased again this month to 2.6 jobseekers per vacancy - its lowest point in over a year. We're not out of the woods yet though - unemployment among 16-24 year olds remains a major problem and the fall in the real value of wages continues to hinder recovery in the UK labour market. Adzuna’s wage data, which is released three months ahead of the ONS data, shows the average salary in August fell 3.5% year-on-year." 

Tom Hadley, Director of Policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), also commenting on today’s employment figures said: “The jobs market continues to be on the road to recovery and there are signs that this recovery is accelerating. We’ve seen job vacancies rising to a six year high last month.” 

Mr Hadley stated: “Looking ahead, the huge challenge we face is ensuring that there are enough workers with the right skills to meet this demand.  More efforts should be focused on addressing this skills gap rather than picking holes in flexible working arrangements.” 

“We still need to do more to help young people break into the world of work and ensure that workers can continue to progress within the jobs market.  To achieve this, the priority must be to develop careers guidance network which is fit for purpose,” he concluded. 

CIPD Chief Economist Mark Beatson said: "Today's headline figures continue the pattern of recent months, with increased employment and a smaller, although welcome, reduction to unemployment, which is now below 2.5 million. These results are in line with the latest CIPD/Success Factors Labour Market Outlook survey, which showed that employers' recruitment expectations were at their highest level since before the 2008 recession. Other recruitment surveys have been similarly positive."

Tara Ricks, managing director of Randstad Financial and Professional, commented: “The jobs market is improving around the country – not just in the City. Every region is getting a slice of the cake. Job vacancies are increasing in most industry sectors, particularly in key areas like professional services and manufacturing. Employer confidence has soared, and that confidence is percolating all the way through the labour market and into the rest of the economy.

“That said, the government can’t get complacent. Although the north-south divide is narrowing, it is still prominent. And salary growth is still painfully weak, which is allowing inflation to steal a march and gobble up employees’ personal finances. And the government needs to do more to increase lending to SMEs, which will encourage small businesses to take on more staff,” she added. “Employers have done a great job in helping more people get into work. They’re encouraging more flexible working, which has been particularly beneficial to women – there are 279,000 more women working part-time compared to five years ago. Part-time work accounts for 88% of the increase in the number of women in employment since 2008.” 


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