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DWF comments on April labour market figures

12 April 2022

Our employment experts across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland comment on the latest labour market figures.

Jon Keeble, employment partner at DWF, comments on the ONS labour market figures published today. He said: 

"The latest ONS labour market figures demonstrate continued resilience in the labour market.  The highlights for the period between December 2021 and February 2022 show a largely unchanged employment rate of 75.5%.  The UK unemployment rate was an estimated 3.8%, 0.2% lower than the previous quarter and encouragingly 0.1% below the pre-pandemic levels, despite a challenging period for employers with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and the resultant tighter restrictions over the Christmas and New Year period.  
 
"With legal requirements largely removed across the UK and a shift over to personal responsibility we are very much in the phase of having to live with Covid-19.  Although employers are now faced with a number of practical challenges as we enter this next chapter, the relaxation of restrictions should have a positive effect on the labour market.  
 
"We are yet to see what impact the cost of living crisis will have on the labour market and whether the Chancellor's Spring Statement and the rise in the National Minimum Wage will provide sufficient support.  Undoubtedly, employees who are struggling to cope financially will be seeking out those employers, which are able to provide the most attractive rewards package."    

Ann Frances Cooney, employment partner at DWF, comments on Scotland’s Labour Market Trends. She said: 

"The latest labour market figures for Scotland demonstrate continued resilience in challenging times.  The headline figures for the period between December 2021 and February 2022 show an estimated employment rate of 74.7%, down 0.3% over the quarter.  By way of comparison, Scotland's employment rate was below the UK rate of 75.5%.  Scotland estimated unemployment rate was 3.5%, a reduction of 0.1% over the quarter.  Scotland's unemployment rate was below the UK rate of 3.8%.  The figures represent a difficult period for employers with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and the resultant tighter restrictions over the Christmas and New Year period.

"We are very much entering the phase of having to live with Covid-19.  Although employers are now faced with a number of practical challenges as we embark on this next chapter, the relaxation of restrictions should have a positive effect on the labour market.  
 
"We are yet to see what impact the cost of living crisis will have on the labour market and whether the Chancellor's Spring Statement and the rise in the National Minimum Wage will provide sufficient support.  Undoubtedly employees who are struggling to cope financially will be seeking out those employers which are able to provide the most attractive rewards package."    

Elizabeth Colvin, employment solicitor at DWF, comments on Northern Ireland's Labour Market Report. She said: 

"The latest labour market statistics show the number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in Northern Ireland in March 2022 was 775,000 an increase of 0.1% over the month and 4.8% over the year. This is the highest on record and the tenth consecutive month that employee numbers have been above pre-COVID levels. Earnings from the HMRC PAYE indicated that NI employees had a median monthly pay of £1,928 in March 2022, an increase of £14 over the month and £125 over the year.
 
"The trend of low numbers of confirmed redundancies continues as NISRA received confirmation that 30 redundancies occurred in March 2022. At 1850, the annual total was 68% less than last year.
 
"The unemployment rate decreased by 0.6 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and by 1.0pps over the year to 2.5% returning to the pre-pandemic levels.
 
"The rise in employment reflects the high recruitment drive in NI's labour market over the past few months and the relaxation of COVID restrictions since Christmas and New Year period. While this suggests a positive continued recovery for the local labour market, it remains to be seen what impact the rise in energy bills and increases in national insurance contributions will have on businesses locally and how they will balance the demand for attractive salary packages from prospective employees against the rising costs to their businesses."

If you require any further information, get in touch with our Employment team.

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