UK Employment Figures, March 2019: Robust Job and Pay Growth Despite Brexit Uncertainty
Pay continues to grow steadily as employment hits a new record high
Against the backdrop of rising uncertainty about Brexit and concerns about a slowdown in global economic growth, Britain’s labour market remains surprisingly robust. The proportion of working-age people in employment has hit a new record of 76.1% in the three months to January, while unemployment fell yet again to a new 44-year low of 3.9%. On the recruitment front line, this situation is forcing many employers to ramp up salaries to attract and retain staff. As a result, after years of stagnation, average nominal pay excluding bonuses is rising at a respectable rate of 3.4% year on year.
It is not all good news, however. While pay continues to rise steadily for the time being, the average worker may notice little difference to their buying power: weekly earnings are up £8 compared with a year ago, after adjusting for inflation, and remain below the pre-crisis peak. And although strong employment growth is certainly good news for people searching for a job, the outlook for the labour market remains uncertain. In the short term, the impact of political turmoil in the run-up to Brexit on business confidence, investment and hiring plans remain a key item to watch.
Pawel Adrjan is the UK Economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab and a Research Fellow at Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford. Before joining Indeed, Pawel spent over a decade in investment banking, holding senior roles in risk management, credit ratings advisory, and treasury at Goldman Sachs and Barclays in London and New York. His research focuses on a wide range of labour market topics, such as wages, pensions and the impact of technology on jobs. Pawel speaks Polish, Spanish and French. He has completed a B.A. in international studies and a B.S. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Oxford.