The labour market figures published on 10 September point to a labour market that is slowing and has stabilised with low unemployment and high rates of employment. However, with ongoing Brexit uncertainty this may be the calm before the storm.
Duncan Melville, chief economist at Learning and Work Institute, commented:
Last month’s large rise in employment was a surprise. This month’s numbers, a modest rise in employment of 31,000 in the quarter to May to July 2019, was a return to the sort of increases we had seen prior to August. Hence, last month’s number appears a blip. While unemployment fell in the quarter, the number of people who are economically inactive and outside the labour market increased.
The level of vacancies fell again, the seventh month in a row of declines. The level of redundancies is also up - hovering around the 100,000 mark in recent month’s numbers compared to around 85,000 in late 2018. The claimant count, numbers of people claiming unemployment related benefits, increased again by 28,000 this month and by 271,000 in the last year. Wage growth may also be starting to stabilise. The three months to July 2019, saw wages (excluding bonuses) grow by 3.8%, while, after accounting for inflation, real wages grew by 1.8%. Both of these numbers are down very slightly by 0.1 percentage points.
Paul Bivand, associate director for statistics and analysis at Learning and Work Institute's said:
The rollout of Universal Credit continues to affect the benefit figures. This time last year, 40% of the people on the claimant count were on Universal Credit. Now, 83% of the higher number on the count are Universal Credit Claimants. The claimant count has increased by 445,000 since December 2015, when 14% were on Universal Credit and 630,000 on Jobseeker's Allowance.
Chart 6: Young people not in employment, full-time education or training
The number of out of work young people who are not in full-time education (986,000) has risen in the past quarter by 41,000, or 4.3%. The rise was largely among the inactive, with the number of unemployed young people not in full-time education or training rising at a lower rate.