Our reports on the ONS Labour Market Statistics in recent months have charted a regular pattern. The topline figures continue to improve, but there are underlying causes for concern about those in the most difficult situations.
This month is a little different. The upsides are there:
- The employment rate is up to 71.7 per cent, and the headcount of those in work has risen by 155,000 to 29.87 million people, another record.
- The unemployment rate is down 0.1 per centage points to 7.7 per cent. The unemployed headcount fell by 18,000 to 2.49 million people.
- The economic inactivity rate also fell on both measures, down to 22.2 per cent, a fall of 83,000 to 8.95 million people.
But there are also some signs that youth unemployment and long-term unemployment are starting to fall, a positive departure from the trend.
The headline number of young people who are unemployed stayed essentially the same – a 0.1 per cent rise in the rate is attributed by the ONS to a skew in the calculations caused by more people going into full time education. Stripping out those in full time education, though, shows a quarterly fall of 7,000 – a welcome improvement but only a start in reducing the harm done at the start of what should be their working lives.
The number of those who have been unemployed for more than a year, a measure which has seen a fall of 15,000 on the previous quarter.
The improvement on the tougher-to-shift measures are welcome news, but there is much further still to go.