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Fall in unemployment as job vacancies rise

Written by: Emma Lunn
There are now more job vacancies than before pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

With ‘freedom day’ approaching and the furlough scheme being wound down, more people are going back to work.

The unemployment rate dipped by 0.2 points to 4.8% in the quarter to May, while employment rose by 0.1 points to 74.8%, according to the latest figures. However, employment is still 1% higher than before the pandemic.

The number of people on payroll increased 356,0000 in June compared to the previous month –  although it is still 206,000 below the pre-pandemic level. For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, some regions are now above pre-pandemic (February 2020) levels. These include North East, North West, East Midlands and Northern Ireland.

There were 862,000 job vacancies in April to June 2021 – 77,500 above pre-pandemic level in January to March 2020. All but one industry saw quarterly increases in their number of vacancies. In June 2021, the experimental monthly vacancies data, and the experimental Adzuna online vacancies data both continued to surpass pre-pandemic levels.

Jack Kennedy, UK economist at the global job site Indeed, said: “As far as the labour market is concerned, Britain’s economy is well and truly back to work. The recovery is churning out new jobs at a prolific rate and giving many of those still on furlough an opportunity to return to the workplace.

“The unemployment rate has started to tick back down, and at the end of June well over a third of a million more people were in payrolled employment than had been a month earlier.

“For those looking for a new job, both choice and availability are improving. There were a total of 862,000 vacancies during the past quarter, almost 10% more than were available during the three months immediately before the pandemic.

“With job creation surging and unemployment falling, the labour market recovery is in a strong place and as prepared as it can be for the gradual phasing out of the furlough scheme over the coming months.”

Cheney Hamilton, CEO of flexible working recruiter, Find Your Flex, said: “The jobs market has been improving steadily in recent months, with companies increasingly confident about hiring and more vacancies appearing by the day.

“What’s interesting is that 70% of our current jobseekers are in work and are voting for flexibility with their feet. The end of the furlough scheme and a potential new lockdown come winter pose the biggest threat to unemployment levels. Hospitality is understandably one of the weakest sectors of the jobs market, as it is highly sensitive to future lockdowns and a tightening of restrictions.”

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