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Phil Smith Comments on ONS Employment Stats

Commenting on the latest ONS figures, Phil Smith, Managing Director, Business West, said:

“Government will no doubt highlight the fact that unemployment is at its lowest level since the 1970s, but we must remember that this figure is slightly misleading, given that it is a reflection of the claimant count, rather the total number of the UK adult population who find themselves out of work.

“A much better indicator of the health of the UK labour market is the employment rate and this has remained static. The wage growth that we saw in the last set of ONS figures similarly refuses to budge.

“Perhaps the most worrying statistic for businesses is an increase in unfilled job vacancies spurred by falling immigration from the EU. 2.28 million EU nationals were working in the UK between April and June 2018. This is 86,000 less than the same period in 2017; making it the largest annual fall since records began in 1997. What this exposes is a national education and training system that is struggling to cope with the demands of British businesses in terms of skills, and this a worrying sign with Brexit looming.

“One positive we can take from the latest set of ONS results is the unemployment rate amongst 16-24 year olds, which was at its lowest since records began. While this can of course be caveated due to the fact that the unemployment rate reflects those claiming benefits; the fact that the number of young people not in employment, education or training overall is low and getting lower is news to celebrate.”

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