Official statistics show it is still slow going in the labour market

Commenting on today’s Labour Market Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at the CIPD, said: “Today’s figures show that employment is increasing again with the number of people in jobs up by 24,000 over the quarter. However, the general picture is still one of relatively slow progress. We have seen very modest reductions in unemployment and youth unemployment this month, total hours worked have hardly changed and earnings growth remains very low in historical terms.”

“One apparent puzzle in the figures is that the alternative measure of employment – that counts workforce jobs – increased by 211,000 in the first quarter of 2013, driven by strong increases in retail and healthcare. This was a period when the headline Labour Force Survey-based measure showed relatively little growth in the numbers of people employed”.

“The more positive economic indicators seen in the last couple of months may soon translate into faster growth in labour demand – with the rise in job vacancies suggesting this may already be starting to happen – posing new challenges for employers. Businesses tell us they’ve been struggling to find the right people with the right skills even when the labour market has been at its most sluggish. A stronger labour market suggests that the competition for talent that never went away entirely may be about to increase in intensity once again. Employers who want to steal a march on their competitors will need to be thinking hard about how they attract, retain and develop their workforces. With plenty of room for productivity growth, investment in skills and engagement may be a more profitable and sustainable strategy for attracting and retaining the best people than simply increasing pay”