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Labour market figures show continued signs of recovery

15 July 2021

Joanne Frew, UK Head of Employment practice at legal business DWF, comments on the latest jobs market figures published by the ONS

Joanne said:

"The latest ONS labour market figures show continued signs of recovery.  The UK employment rate was estimated at 74.8% between March and May 2021, 0.1% higher than the previous quarter.  Further, the UK unemployment rate was estimated at 4.8%, 0.2% lower than the previous quarter.  The steady figures reflect a period when the UK was subject to a number of restrictions, demonstrating a relatively robust labour market.   
 
"With over 35 million people in the UK fully vaccinated, England's lockdown restrictions due to end on 19 July 2021 and isolation rules to be eased from 16 August 2021 for under 18s and fully vaccinated adults, we can expect the labour market figures to continue to improve.  However, the figures reflecting the period in the run up to 16 August 2021 may show a dip as many employers struggle to manage the uncertainty surrounding isolation due to the COVID infection rate increases. 
 
"In March to May 2021, the redundancy rate demonstrates that the UK has returned to pre-pandemic levels.  However, we can expect a sharp increase in redundancies at the end of September when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends.  The 19 July 2021 lifting of restrictions will give businesses a two-month breathing space to get up and running before the government support is withdrawn."  

Employment Law Expert Responds to June’s Labour Market Report for Northern Ireland

Commenting on the June Labour Market Report for Northern Ireland, issued by NISRA today, employment law expert, Andrew Lightburn, a director at the Belfast office of DWF said: “The latest LMR report shows continued improvement in Northern Ireland's labour market. 

“Northern Ireland's unemployment rate was unchanged over the quarter with an unemployment rate of 3.6% which was below the UK rate of 4.8%. Whilst there was a monthly increase of 1.4% of the number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE, these numbers are now above the total recorded at the beginning of lockdown in March 2020. 

“Also of significance is an increase in earnings. HMRC PAYE data shows a modest 0.4% monthly increase in median pay and a 5.6% increase over the year. The monthly pay in June was 4.4% above the value in March 2020."

"The quarterly figures for weekly hours worked shows an increase of 5% over the quarter and an increase of 13% over the year but is still 7% below the level recorded between December – February 2020".

“The redundancy figures show that in June there were 490 redundancies proposed and a further 850 redundancies were proposed in July to date."

"Overall the figures indicate some positive momentum building as employment levels increase. Of interest is the increase in wages which suggests competition in certain sectors to attract and retain the best employees. Countering this is an increase in redundancies but this is to be expected as employers have one eye on the looming end to furlough payments at the end of September". 

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