Employment prospects start to sag under economic lethargy

Suren Thiru - Head of Economics at BCC

Labour market figures for November 2019, just published by the ONS, show unemployment low, but the picture’s not all rosy, says an industry expert.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Although the UK’s unemployment rate remains very low by historic standards, falling employment is further evidence that the labour market is starting to sag under the weight of a lethargic economy, rising cost pressures and unrelenting uncertainty.

“The continued fall in the number of vacancies suggests that employment growth could slow further over the near term. Businesses report that they are facing persistent recruitment difficulties, which are increasingly putting some off from attempting to hire new staff.

“Although pay continues to rise faster than prices, the slowdown in regular earnings growth is disappointing. While wage growth in real terms is likely to remain in positive territory over the near term a sluggish economy, weak productivity and high upfront costs for businesses will increasingly weigh on pay settlements.

“Any incoming government must safeguard the long-term health of the labour market, including by setting out a long-term strategy and funding for lifelong learning to help people to upskill and retrain.”