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UK Employment Figures, April 2021: Labour Market Recovery Gaining Momentum

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Payroll employment shows biggest rise in over six years.

The unlocking of the economy is thawing out the UK labour market, and the fires of job creation are being stoked by the gradual return to normal life. Nearly 100,000 new employee jobs were created in April, the biggest monthly jump for over six years.

The number of people on employer payrolls has clawed its way to 190,000 above the nadir it endured during the first lockdown last year. Despite this progress, it’s still a shadow of its pre-pandemic self — and it remains 772,000 down on the pre-Covid number.

At the same time the headline rate of unemployment has fallen, and while this progress is impressive, it’s not just a case of all those unemployed people suddenly moving into paid work. Many of those formerly unemployed people stopped looking for work during the third lockdown, meaning they disappeared from the official jobseeker total.

Nevertheless an unemployment rate of 4.8% is a step in the right direction, and there is a growing sense of momentum in the labour market. While the withdrawal of the furlough scheme later this year could push up the unemployment rate again, for now the sense that it has reached a high water mark is welcome. 

Meanwhile, the job postings improvement on Indeed has continued into May, pointing to further gains in next month’s ONS employment figures as the economy reopens.