UK Employment Figures, January 2020: Job Creation Bounces Back but Pay Growth Disappoints

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The employment rate hits yet another record but pay growth continues to slow.

Economic growth is currently as glacial as the winter weather, but Britain’s job creation engines are still running hot. In the three months to November employment went up by 208,000 and the employment rate rose to a new all-time record of 76.3%. Meanwhile the unemployment rate continues to bump along at rock bottom levels. All this happened before any post-election boost to jobseeker or employer confidence.

But for all its resilience in the face of the economic slowdown, it’s not clear how long Britain’s jobs creation miracle will go on. While the total number of vacancies rebounded slightly, it’s down nearly 50,000 on the same time in 2018, as employer demand stays fragile.

The fact that there are still over 800,000 vacancies is good news for jobseekers. But average annual pay growth has slowed slightly to 3.4%, suggesting competition between employers for recruits isn’t really heating up. This is still comfortably outpacing the rate of inflation – boosting people’s spending power – but average pay in real terms is still £1 per week below the pre-crisis peak.

The labour market’s stoicism in the face of wider economic weakness is impressive. We will wait to see if next few months see this trend continue, and whether the Government’s pledge to increase spending on infrastructure, NHS and police recruitment can fire more job creation.

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