As the election creeps ever nearer the government will no doubt be pointing towards an official report stating unemployment fell by 102,000 to 1.86 million people in the three months to January. The unemployment rate still holds at 5.7% but the number of people in work is at an all-time high. In line with this, the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell to 791,200 which is the lowest level since 2008.
Salaries also increased during the same period by 1.8% (including bonuses) which is also with reports that salaries are spiking thanks to skill shortages in fields like engineering. It means earnings continue to outpace consumer price index (CPI) inflation, which official figures showed fell to a record low of 0.3% in January.
The employment figures come as Chancellor George Osborne delivers his final Budget before the general election and has claimed the latest figures as another 'economic milestone' and 'confirmed a new record high employment rate, alongside a claimant count that has not been lower since 1975'. Of course not all is quite as rosy as it seems with many of the new jobs created over the last 5 years being part time positions. But we’re pleased to report a significant uplift in requirement in our sectors specialist sectors.
Employment currently stands at 73.3%, the highest level of people in work since records began in 1971. The number of 16-24 year olds out of work stays very high however, the total figure dropping from 755,000 to just 743,000. Whilst some of this can be attributed to a recovering economy, it does highlight the increasing demand for skilled people, and the total absence of a substantial trained graduate workforce.
Whilst there has been talk in Westminster of co-sponsored retraining initiatives, nothing has been forthcoming and would rely on private investment to have any meaningful impact. With the shortage of engineers expected to double from 55,000 to 110,000 by 2020, it’s something the government, whichever side of the aisle they presently sit, needs to act on quickly.
Whilst earnings have risen, they’ve done so at a slower pace than the 3 months to December. Pay excluding bonuses rose by 1.7% in the three months to December although the drop can be explained by smaller bonus payments for the period. Elsewhere within the figures, the number of self-employed people rose by 33,000 to reach 4.53 million.
There is disagreement in the commons as to whether or not the Conservative plans are working. The Labour Party’s shadow work and pension’s secretary stating working people are £1,600 worse off since 2010. Mr Osborne however claims wages are rising five times faster than prices. Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, seems to be siding with Mr Osborne, commenting the data showed the 'big picture' was one of 'strong growth in full-time jobs in the private sector, record employment and the highest level of vacancies in 12 years'. Going on to say:
'A tightening labour market is bringing the long-awaited wage recovery. After falling for six years, real earnings are growing at the fastest rate since 2008.'
With earning potential increasing in specialist markets it’s proving a good time for individuals in the Aerospace, Defence, Energy & Infrastructure markets to maximise their potential. If you’re looking for your next role register your details with us today.