UK Employment Lower Than Before Pandemic

Among UK regions, London had the largest fall employment since before Covid-19 struck, according to the analysis by the Labour party

Alliance News 7 August, 2023 | 9:44AM
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Employment remains lower in the UK than before the pandemic, new analysis shows as Labour accused the Conservatives of failing to get people back to work.

The research on official figures up to May showed the employment rate is lower now than it was in nine out of the 12 regions and nations pre-pandemic.

But the Conservatives pointed out that Labour-run Wales was among those experiencing the deepest dip since December 2019.

London had the largest fall with 80,000 fewer in employment in a more than 2% fall since before Covid-19 struck, according to the analysis by Labour.

The East Midlands and the South West also experienced large drops, while the North East, Yorkshire and The Humber and the West Midlands were up.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "Britain is the only G7 country to have a lower employment rate than before the pandemic – and the blame for that lies squarely with this Tory Government.

"While the Tories are out of ideas and failing on getting people back to work, Labour has a mission to secure the highest sustained growth in the G7."

But employment minister Guy Opperman claimed Labour's track record shows they "can never be trusted to get more people into work".

"Labour-run Wales has the highest unemployment in the UK and no Labour government has left office with unemployment lower than when they took office," he said.

A government spokesperson insisted they were "leaving no stone unturned to help everyone succeed in work".

"Our drive to get more people working across the country is paying off – employment is at a near-record high with four million more people in jobs than in 2010 and inactivity falling by 360,000 since the peak of the pandemic," he said.

Permanent Hiring Slowing

Meanwhile, UK firms are hesitant to recruit new staff because of concerns over the economic outlook, research suggests.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation reported a fall in permanent staff appointments, blaming a weaker economic climate and reduced market confidence.

A survey of 400 recruitment agencies found permanent staff appointments fell at the steepest pace for three years.

There were frequent reports of redundancies and hiring freezes, while competition for skilled workers and the increased cost of living continued to place upward pressure on rates of starting pay during July, the REC found.

Chief executive Neil Carberry said: "The jobs market overall remains fairly robust, with vacancies and pay still rising and unemployment low, but there is a sense in today's report that the economy will need some growth soon to sustain this positive picture.

"Permanent hiring has been slowing all year. To some extent this is normalisation as the post-pandemic boom abates, but it is also driven by uncertainty.

"Hiring overall is still at a good level, and some sectors remain under pressure from significant labour shortages, including hospitality and construction.

"But today's report emphasises again that sustained positivity in our labour market rests on economic growth and investment in the UK.

"A proper industrial strategy that tackles the big issues we face and which fully encompasses workforce thinking around skills, transport, access to work and immigration is long overdue."

Claire Warnes of KPMG, which helped with the research, added: "The latest survey results reflect the current summer weather – damp, but with some possible bright skies on the horizon.

"Recruiters told us that their clients aren't yet confident enough in the economic outlook to commit to permanent hires, leading to the steepest pace of decline in placements since June 2020."



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