Unemployment rate creeps down
Wed, 18 Apr 2012
Unemployment has fallen for the first time since last May, to 8.3%. The fall is by a margin of 0.1%, equivalent to 35,000 people, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The figures relate to the period from December 2011 to February 2012, and sees the number of unemployed people total 2.65m. There were 29.17m in work, an increase of 53,000 on the quarter, making the employment rate for those aged 16-64 70.4%.
Brian Johnson, an insolvency partner at HW Fisher & Company chartered accountants, says that the “figures are positive but they're not enough to switch caution around the economy to amber from red.”
He adds: "Unemployment is likely to tick back up again, as there are still many thousands of ‘zombie’ companies in the economy.”
Analysis in the latest Work Audit report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that there are 200,000 more women aged 50-64 in employment now than at the start of the recession – while only 3,000 men of the same age have entered employment.
People aged 25-34 are the only other age group to see a rise in employment over the course of the jobs recession, with the number in work increasing by 249,000, which the CIPD suggest is in a large part “likely to be due to inward migration”.
Dr John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the CIPD, says: “When it comes to work, older people have clearly fared better than young people during the jobs recession. But what’s also clear is that older women have done best of all.
“Just why this is happening requires further examination… However, the relatively good outcome for older women during the recession is no cause for complacency about the need to continually stress the business case for an even more age diverse workforce as the economy starts to recover, especially with so much public policy action understandably focused on cutting youth unemployment.”
Andrew Sissons, researcher at The Work Foundation, adds: “There are some good signs about the underlying health of the labour market: there has been a shift away from self-employment, and there has been a recovery in hours worked.
“Going forward, we are unlikely to see any significant improvements in unemployment until the labour market becomes much stronger. This depends on solid economic growth, with increases in full-time work and hours worked. The outlook for both remains uncertain, and these priorities should remain top of the government’s agenda.”
However, Tom Lovell, group managing director of recruitment consultancy Reed, comments: “With last month’s labour market statistics showing the lowest rise in unemployment for nearly a year, and private sector job creation outstripping job losses in the public sector for the first time since the beginning of 2011, we could be seeing firm evidence that the labour market is beginning to stabilise.
“Our own market statistics also show that the UK labour market is heading in a positive direction, with the latest Reed Job Index finding that job creation was strong during the first three months of 2012.”