Let’s not get complacent: IEA expert responds to today’s labour market figures

Commenting on ONS labour market figures for September 2021 published today, Professor Len Shackleton, Editorial and Research Fellow at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Today’s labour market figures look broadly positive, with the employment rate up, the unemployment rate down and total employment getting back close to pre-Covid levels.  

“However, there is still the prospect of a sharp rise in unemployment when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme unwinds at the end of this month.  

“The data also show continuing weaknesses in London and in particular in hospitality and the arts, where many young people have traditionally been employed.

“While the number of young people in work has risen again, it is still below the levels in the early part of last year. Self-employment, too, is still well beneath the pre-pandemic figure. 

“Vacancies are at record levels, indicating strong demand in the labour market, but also a mismatch between job seekers and the types of work available.

“This reflects the changing structure of the labour market as we move into the ‘new normal’, with the continuing weakness of the high street and the jobs which have traditionally clustered around office employment, while opportunities surge in logistics, heavy goods vehicle driving and IT.

“Employers report difficulties with finding suitably trained and experienced applicants, one factor in which is the continuing fall in the numbers of EU nationals in the workforce.  

“So although the UK labour market is in a much better place than seemed possible in the middle of last year, complacency would be the wrong response to today’s figures.”


Notes to editors

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