ONS stats | Latest employment figures buck post-furlough job loss fears

Latest employment figures buck post-furlough job loss fears

Despite fears that the end of the Government’s coronavirus furlough scheme in September would lead to mass unemployment, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that no such spike took place.

The latest data from the ONS, which closely followed employment trends following the conclusion of the scheme, shows that the number of workers on payrolls jumped by 160,000 in October, with jobs vacancies also hitting a new record high of 1.17million, as reported the BBC.

The official rate of unemployment across the country has also fallen to 4.3%, this is reportedly close to pre-pandemic levels.

Despite the easing of measures earlier in the year, an estimated 1.1million workers were still registered on furlough in the scheme's final weeks, which heightened fears of widespread job losses.

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Yet the current talent shortages, coupled with a period of high turnover for many businesses, upped demand for workers and led to significant hiring seen in sectors such as admin, hospitality, transport services and healthcare.

This actively bucked the trend that analysts predicted; 1.2million people moved into work from being unemployed in the period from July-to-September, as restrictions fully eased and furlough started to unwind. A further 980,000 people changed jobs.

Speaking on the cause of the market’s activities, Gerwyn Davies, Senior Labour Market Adviser for the CIPD, noted that workers were ‘rethinking their career priorities’.

“The figures show a surge in job to job moves driven by employees taking advantage of the tight ‘job-seeker friendly’ labour market, and perhaps also people re-thinking their career priorities after the pandemic,” he said.

“In response, employers should focus on improving how they develop and retain their existing workforce to prevent or reduce skill and labour shortages,” Davies added.

The Institute for Employment Studies recently told the BBC that this unexpected turn in the jobs marker was good news for employees, but companies would continue to struggle to recruit, harming the wider economy.

"We're seeing labour shortages across all parts of the economy and a tighter jobs market than at any time in at least 50 years," said IES Director, Tony Wilson.

"All told, we've nearly a million workers now missing from the labour market, and their absence is now holding back our recovery and adding to inflation," he added.

Speaking on the findings, Sam Beckett, Head of Economic Statistics at the Office for National Statistics, noted: "It might take a few months to see the full impact of furlough coming to an end, as people who lost their jobs at the end of September could still be receiving redundancy pay.

"However, October's early estimate shows the number of people on the payroll rose strongly on the month and stands well above its pre-pandemic level."

"There is also no sign of an upturn in redundancies and businesses tell us that only a very small proportion of their previously furloughed staff have been laid off," she added.



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