"Today's statistics will be seen generally as good news, and rightly so. Employment has risen again to record levels, and the bulk of the jobs growth continues to be full-time and with employee status. However, it appears that the boom in self-employment we saw in the years after 2008 has stalled; the numbers reached their peak in spring last year and are starting to edge down.

"While the headline unemployment rate fell, there was a small increase in the jobless claimant count. This reminds us that the Government faces a significant challenge in delivering on its Welfare to Work. Youth unemployment still needs to come down further and long-term unemployment remains a problem, especially for older job-seekers. As the Government puts its finishing touches to its Spending Review, it needs to avoid assuming this is a case of ‘job done’. A growing labour market is a great help in tackling unemployment, but some jobseekers need dedicated support and encouragement if they are to be in a position to compete for the opportunities available.

"Average earnings are growing by 3% a year in real terms, but there is still little sign of skill shortages that might push up wage growth across the board. With no inflation, this does mean that for now most people in employment will see an increase in living standards. However, we need this to happen for several years to make up for the fall in real average earnings we saw between 2009 and 2014. That will only happen if we see sustained productivity growth.”


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