The jobs boom… I’ve dissected the jobs boom in several ways in the past, including in these To The Point posts. Public versus private? Part-time versus full? British workers versus foreign-born? Here, here and here.
…keeps on booming. But how about a metric that doesn’t get as much airtime? The above graph shows the number of unemployed people for eac job vacancy. The most recent figure, taken from yesterday’s employment statistics, is 2.5. That’s the lowest it has been since April 2008, and well under the record high of 5.9 achieved in October 2011. It is also the same as the average monthly total between 2002 and 2007. We are now unequivocally back to pre-recessions levels.
The reason. This is, of course, a happy result of more job vacancies and fewer unemployed people. The former have risen by 41 per cent, to almost quarter-of-a-million, across the past two years. The latter have declined by 28 per cent. These trends are not unlinked.
Vacancies on top of vacancies. The number of actual vacancies could be higher than the official statistics let on. As I was once told by the head of a welfare-to-work provider, “[the ONS figures are] basically the number of jobs that are being advertised in Job Centres. I view that as about a third of the actual total vacancies. So, a third are in the Job Centres, a third are in either newspapers or online adverts, and the final third will be word-of-mouth.”
Skills deficit. But this surfeit of jobs isn’t enough by itself. It’s worth remembering that the ratio of unemployed people to vacancies has never gone below 2.2 in the past decade-and-a-half. It doesn’t matter much to Mike the former forklift truck driver in Sunderland that there’s a hairdressing job available in Newport. The skills need to match the opportunities.