The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Market information has been released today (23rd February 2021), the day after Boris Johnson gave his four step Roadmap to recovery from Lockdown 3.
The ONS data is grim reading with unemployment rising above 5%, and there are 730,000 fewer people in payroll employment, nearly 200,000 young people have been unemployed for six months or longer.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:
“I know how incredibly tough the past year has been for everyone, and every job lost is a personal tragedy. That’s why throughout the crisis, my focus has been on doing everything we can to protect jobs and livelihoods”
“At the Budget next week I will set out the next stage of our Plan for Jobs, and the support we’ll provide through the remainder of the pandemic and our recovery.”
What has the Sector Reaction been to the latest ONS Labour Market figures?
Responding to today’s latest labour market figures, Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, said;
“Today’s labour market statistics show we’ll be living with the economic effects of the pandemic for years to come. Unemployment has increased above 5%, and there are 730,000 fewer people in payroll employment. The labour market is now stabilising with redundancies falling from their peak, but at higher levels of unemployment and with young people accounting for three fifths of the fall in employees.
“The Chancellor needs to extend the furlough scheme in next week’s Budget to match the easing of restrictions in the Prime Minister’s roadmap. Otherwise we risk a new wave of redundancies. He also needs to invest in job creation, help the 2.6 million people claiming unemployment-related benefits to find new work, and urgently introduce a Youth Guarantee of a job, apprenticeship or training offer.
“And after years of freezes in working-age benefits, it’s essential the Government makes the £20 increase in Universal Credit permanent to help households hard hit by the pandemic.”
Responding to the latest UK Labour market statistics from the Office of National Statistics, Samantha Windett, Director of Policy at Impetus said:
“Today’s statistics show that nearly 200,000 young people have now been unemployed for longer than six months, the highest figure for over four years. And yet again young people have experienced the largest fall in employment since the start of the crisis, with fewer job vacancies than a year ago. Alongside the Prime Minister’s roadmap, the Chancellor’s budget next week needs to give young people much more urgent support.
“In June, the Prime Minister announced an Opportunity Guarantee for every young person. Amid an ever-worsening youth employment crisis, we need government action to deliver on that promise. No young person should spend more than six months unemployed before accessing a meaningful education, training or employment opportunity.
“The latest numbers on the Kickstart Scheme show that many employers have had no choice but to delay their placements given the continuing disruption of lockdowns. Kickstart must be extended past December to give employers the time they need to offer thousands more young people the opportunity of employment.”
Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds Group commented:
“We are now at a pivotal moment, with the unemployment rate surging to 5.1%, all signs point to a looming unemployment crisis. Furlough has been a lifeline to millions of people and provided much-needed support at a time of seemingly never ending uncertainty. However, the reality is that it cannot continue to mask unemployment forever. We need to think differently about how to help our people and economy recover from the impact of coronavirus, and that means matching skills to jobs, and supply to labour market demand. This is about getting people who have either already lost their jobs, or are in ‘at risk’ jobs, back into meaningful work.
“At the heart of any solution must be a recognition of the immense value of transferable skills as people navigate the tricky terrain of leaving one occupation to a completely new industry. Government funding for short sharp top up skills interventions will be key to turn a burgeoning problem into opportunities for all. Additionally, employers within growth sectors who are actively recruiting could help play a role in the recovery of the country by recruiting from a wider, more diverse talent pool to provide local communities with the much needed support.
“We urge Government to prioritise the creation of long-term solutions to curtail unemployment. As we continue to move through this crisis and see its true impact unmasked, providing people with the right support and framework to gain the necessary skills, advice and access to meaningful employment, is more crucial than ever.”
Commenting on this morning’s Labour Market Statistics, Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies said:
“These jobs figures lay bare the impacts of the crisis last year, with 500 thousand more redundancies in 2020 than in 2019 and the largest annual fall in employment since 2009. Nonetheless these figures are still better than many had feared earlier in the year, and the most recent payroll data shows employment growing again through December and January. However there is enough in today’s data to give the Chancellor pause for thought as he puts the finishing touches to the Budget next week. Long-term youth unemployment has risen to 200 thousand, an increase of one third, and there are now comfortably more long-term unemployed people than there will be Kickstart jobs or subsidised apprenticeships. Meanwhile the employment ‘gap’ appears to have stopped closing for disabled people, older workers and ethnic minority groups, with no specific measures in place to address this. There also worrying signs of increased job insecurity, with now 1.5 million people in involuntary temporary or part-time work – up by 190 thousand on the year.
“If the Chancellor had hoped that at this Budget he may be able to start to rein in spending and ease up on support, today’s figures may will give him cause to think again.”
James Reed, chairman of REED, said:
“Today’s ONS unemployment statistics might raise further alarm bells about the economic emergency. However, despite the third national lockdown, the labour market has shown some encouraging signs of recovery since December.
“Job postings on reed.co.uk were up by nearly a third (31%) in January compared to December, and there has been a surge of new jobs added in February with over 165,000 added in the first three weeks of the month – with Customer Service, IT & Telecoms, and Health & Medicine being the most active sectors.
“Thanks to the success of the vaccine roll-out, the recovery is expected to accelerate as current restrictions are eased in the coming months. But the Government must continue to support employers and workers as we transition back to some sense of normality.
“The furlough scheme continues to be a lifeline for businesses. An extension should be considered for those who will still need support beyond April while a phased easing of lockdown measures takes place across different sectors.
“However, more targeted support is also needed for those whose livelihoods have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic – including women, workers from BAME backgrounds and the youngest and oldest among the UK workforce. The Chancellor’s March Budget is an opportunity to begin rebuilding a fairer economy that holds the Prime Minister to his word that this will be the last lockdown.”
Employer confidence is starting to return, says Tiger Recruitment
David Morel, CEO, Tiger Recruitment said:
“There are encouraging signs in today’s ONS data that the jobs market is over the worst of the pandemic. While vacancies in the period November to January are down on a year ago, they are up by 64,000 from the previous quarter, with recent indications that large employers in particular are starting to increase their vacancies. Positive pay growth was also recorded in all sectors in October to December.
“We’re seeing this upward trend in our own business, reflected in an uplift in jobs advertised across job board platforms, along with an increase in new roles being briefed into our office. The success of the vaccination programme, coupled with PM Boris Johnson’s cautious but clear roadmap for opening up the economy is restoring employer confidence. As a result, a number of our clients are planning to recruit roles in the next few weeks that have previously been on hold.”