The Office for National Statistics has released its latest tranche of jobs market data. Today’s report shows us the employment and economic activity rates for the period of June to August 2019.
The headline take-away from this quarter’s data is likely to be a rise in unemployment for the first time in many months. The ONS estimates a very slight (0.1%) growth in the number of job seekers compared to the previous quarter.
At the same time, overall employment has also dipped slightly. At 75.9%, current employment has fallen by 0.2% in the space of the last quarter. It still represents a 0.3% growth for the year, however. Employment for the same three months of 2018 stood at 75.6%.
Change in market could offer breathing space to recruiting firms
In fact, the same shifts are found across the newest set of figures. Economic activity – while an improvement on a year earlier – actually rose compared to last quarter. Economic inactivity for October was measured at 21%. That is a 0.1% increase on the previous quarter (20.9%); but a 0.2% reduction on the same period of 2018 (21.2%).
Interestingly, the trend shift appears to be largely drawn along gender lines.
Male employment and economic activity has remained relatively unchanged over the previous quarter and year. In contrast, female employment has fallen by 0.3% in the space of a single quarter.
Despite this, net employment among women is still 0.6% higher than twelve months earlier.
The jobs market is susceptible to numerous external factors. One of the key influences over the rise in female employment rates in recent years has been retirement. Specifically, the increase in pension age for women born in the 1950s has seen a net increase in female employment rates. However, as this generation now approaches its later retirement, some of the figures may begin to reflect a correction to previous levels.
The fall in job creation has perhaps been the major talking point of the 2019 jobs market.
A sharp contraction in the number of listed vacancies has impacted recruitment operations for much of the year.
However, there was some evidence to suggest that this sharp dip may be slowing. Vacancies declined at their slowest rate since January of this year. Current vacancies are estimated at 815,000 – a fall of just 4,000 positions from the previous quarter.
While this is one trend that recruiters will happy to see the back of, the drop in open positions throughout 2019 has still tested firms’ ability to manage tougher times.
There are increased calls among recruiters to improve job matching rates for candidates. And there is greater pressure on consultants to beat the rush and find suitable applicants for each position, as it comes to the jobs market.
Margin – and a fast response – are as ever the focus for many agencies. This month’s data will go some way to alleviate the pressure – but there is still some way to go before we can say the current tightening trends are over.
• Want to read more? You can download a pdf version of the full report here.