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Employment on the up despite the end of furlough

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that the number of employees was up 160,000 to 29.3 million in October, despite the end of the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS).

However, the ONS noted that it’s possible that those made redundant at the end of the furlough scheme are still working out their notice period. But its research suggests that the number made redundant was likely to be a small share of those still on furlough at the end of September 2021.

Treasury data had shown there were 1.14 million jobs on furlough when the scheme ended on 30 September.

The ONS’ Labour Force Survey estimates for July to September 2021 show the employment rate increased 0.4 percentage points on the quarter, to 75.4%. The quarterly increase in employment was driven by a record high net flow from unemployment to employment.

Total job-to-job moves also increased to a record high of 979,000, largely driven by resignations rather than dismissals, during the July to September 2021 period. The rise is also driven by an increase in part-time work and an increase in the number of people on zero-hour contracts, driven by young people.

Job vacancies, like the ones from the Miami trucking companies, also hit a record high of 1.172 million, up 388,000 from the pre-pandemic level. Both single month vacancies and Adzuna’s online job advert estimates reached record levels of vacancy numbers in October 2021.

The redundancy rate rose slightly to 3.7 per thousand in July-September, up 0.2 per thousand in the quarter, which is similar to pre-pandemic levels.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The great resignation has hit the UK, and persuaded almost a million people that it’s time for a fresh start. We’ve seen a record wave of resignations, as people reassessed their priorities during the pandemic, browsed the over a million vacancies, and joined the mass exodus to greener pastures. But it’s not all good news, because within the figures are an awful lot of people getting left behind.

“For anyone who emerged from lockdowns with new priorities and ambitions, record vacancies have offered new opportunities. We’ve never seen so many people hand their notice in and find work elsewhere. We’ve also seen a wave of older people choose to down tools altogether and leave the workforce earlier than originally planned.”

Jack Kennedy, UK economist at job site Indeed, said: “This data speaks volumes about the strength of the jobs market. For months the drumbeat of job creation has been getting steadily louder, and it barely skipped a beat as the furlough scheme was ending.

“More than a million workers were still on some form of furlough as the scheme closed at the end of September. Yet the labour market is now running so hot that it appears to have absorbed the vast majority of them – with most jumping straight back into work, either with their existing employer or in a new job.

“So far the end of furlough shows no signs of creating the wave of unemployment many had feared. Instead the direction of travel is in the other direction – in the last quarter a record 304,000 people moved from unemployment into work and the unemployment rate fell sharply to 4.3%.

“All this is being powered by a hiring bonanza. Nearly a million people moved job during the third quarter of the year, and employers’ demand for staff shows no sign of abating.”

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