Recent labour market data has puzzled many economists and shown further positive signs, despite the current challenging economic climate and despite the International Monetary Fund’s recent downward reversion of the UK growth market. This data has shown that employment figures continue to edge upwards whilst unemployment (including youth unemployment) continues to fall. However, for the second month in succession, the number of people claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance has again risen. In summary the data has shown the following:

  • Employment has risen by 0.6%, meaning that a further 181,000 have found employment in recent months.
  • Over 65’s benefitted from this most, indicating a general preference amongst employers to employ experienced individuals when faced with a choice. This could lead to age discrimination claims by younger workers so employers will need to monitor the age profile of their workforce and recruitment process. If an employer wants an older worker then they will need to be able to objectively justify that.
  • Unemployment meanwhile has dropped by 2.5% in the same period.
  • The number of individuals who were neither in employment or looking for work in June also fell 0.7%.
  • Youth unemployment has also dropped but its change is not quite as impressive as general unemployment with youth unemployment experiencing only a 0.9% fall.
  • A further 6,100 claimed Job Seekers’ Allowance in June compared to May – a rise that was driven by an increase in the number of women claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance (8,000).
  • The number of men claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance dropped actually dropped by 1,900. The number of people seeking Job Seekers’ Allowance for over a year rose by 17,400 and for over two years increasing by 6,000. This means that 18,000 more people are now unemployed for over two years.

Whilst these statistics appear largely promising for the UK labour market, recent survey data suggests the employment figures may weaken over the next few months. Given the uncertainty surrounding Europe and the economy struggling to gain any real momentum, many have suggested that such positive signs may be short-lived and that conditions in the labour market may become far more challenging towards the latter part of the year.