Official figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week reveal that while the employment rate is at a near-record high of 75.2%, unemployment has risen slightly by 0.1%.
While January’s figures showed the unemployment rates as being the lowest since 1975 at 4.3%, February’s have inched up slightly, to a still-low 4.4%. However, this is the largest growth in unemployment since June 2016 when the last UK General Election took place.
This means that the UK’s employment rate has shrunk slightly by 0.1% in the latest February figures from their 75.3% high in January.
The Gov.uk website claims that these figures show that diverse groups across society are accessing new job opportunities. Meanwhile, voices from the UK’s recruitment industry have expressed mild concern, while acknowledging that this glitch could be a one-off.
David Clift, HR director, totaljobs, commented: “Today’s rise in unemployment is the first time figures have been this high since Theresa May became Prime Minster in June 2016. But despite today’s disappointing news, totaljobs remains confident that the ONS figures do not account for recent positive macroeconomic changes which the Bank of England has said is increasingly reassuring. This level of satisfaction is reflected in the confidence of our jobseekers, as almost double the number of new CVs were uploaded in January this year compared to December 2017.”
Ian Brinkley, acting chief economist, CIPD: “The substantial and unexpected rise in unemployment is a clear warning that the UK labour market may be running out of steam, but there are reasons to believe that this is a one-off, as opposed to the beginning of a larger employment crisis. There has still been a significant rise in employment dominated by an increase in full time, permanent jobs, while some of the rise in unemployment may be attributed to more students entering the labour market.
“The strengthening of wage growth is also a welcome sign as, when coupled with likely falls in inflation, it opens up the possibility of real wage growth in the coming months, which will be a great relief to those workers who have seen their pay packets squeezed for months on end.”