This month’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) labour market data for May to July 2016 have shown that employment rose 174,000 and unemployment fell by 39,000.
The ONS confirmed last week that there are 31.77 million people now in work – up by more than 550,000 in the past year and by 2.7 million since 2010. And the figures on Gov.uk state that the UK’s employment rate continues to run at a record high of 74.5%, while the unemployment rate holds firm at 4.9% – its lowest in more than 10 years.
John Salt, Group Sales Director, Totaljobs, commented on the news: “This month’s ONS report includes over five weeks of labour market data following the referendum, and it’s great to see that even during this unsettling period, unemployment has fallen yet again. Businesses are clearly eager to keep on hiring, and confidence in the jobs market remains high. We’ve seen this positivity reflected in our most recent Totaljobs Employment Index, which showed the number of jobs posted on the site in August jump a staggering 19% year-on-year.
“This is strong evidence that the UK jobs market is in good health. That said, if the economy is to remain on the same trajectory, the Government must continue to support businesses of all sizes, creating an environment where businesses can, and will, keep on hiring in the face of uncertainty into 2017.”
IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, also responded to the news that the number of self-employed workers in the UK rose by 224,000 to 4.76 million in the three months to July 2016, compared to the previous year.
Lorence Nye, IPSE Economic Adviser, said: “The figures mark a continued trend of individuals making the choice to work for themselves. The number of self-employed workers is soaring, growing almost four times faster than employees, and this is a sign of a long-term structural change in the labour market. There’s little evidence of this trend slowing any time soon, and it appears the uncertainty around Brexit didn’t stop these workers going it alone in the run-up to the referendum.”
However, with much of the data being pre-referendum, others have urged caution over making any assumptions about the effect of June’s vote on the UK’s labour market.
Steve Girdler, Managing Director for EMEA at HireRight: “While the figures reveal an apparently healthy appetite to employment and growth, the numbers may be hiding a more worrying truth. The question mark lies not over whether businesses are still hiring, but more over who those hires represent.
“Amongst so much uncertainty, the reality that may be hiding behind these seemingly positive figures is that some of the best qualified candidates from within the EU may be overlooked in favour of the safer option represented by UK citizens. And in a global, highly competitive world, the risk that we could be driving the most promising international minds out of the UK could provide one of the greatest long-term threats to British business.”