UK Employment Figures, June 2019: Job Growth Slows as Labour Market Pauses for Breath

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Upbeat labour market update follows weak GDP figures and Brexit uncertainty

The UK labour market continues to set new records despite weak GDP figures earlier in the week that threatened to dampen the economic outlook. ONS data showed that on a seasonally-adjusted basis, estimated employment grew by 32,000 in the three months to April compared with the prior quarter. The economy continues to create jobs but at a slower rate than in recent months.

Whether this latest slowdown in job creation is a sign of an economy hitting the ceiling of full employment, a side effect of Brexit uncertainty, or just normal fluctuation is not yet clear. In the seven years since the UK’s economic recovery began in earnest, employment has fallen on a quarterly basis no fewer than eight separate times, but not one of those blips altered the general upward trend.

One of the interesting aspects of this month’s data is the rising participation of women in the workforce, which helps support overall employment growth.

The employment rate for women has reached a new record of 72.0%. Yet, despite this positive trend, women still earn significantly less than men, and it is telling how ingrained this gender pay gap remains, not just in reality but also in people’s expectations. New research by Indeed has found that women expect to earn an average £45,800 a year in today’s money at the height of their careers, while men expect to earn £62,900. That is a sizeable difference in peak career expectations of £17,100.

The overall employment rate remains at a joint record high of 76.1%, meaning more people of working age are in a job than ever before. While vacancies have been falling for several months after hitting a peak of 861,000 in the three months to January, demand from employers for staff remains strong with 837,000 job openings across the country.

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