Responding to today’s ONS labour market figures, Jonathan Boys, senior labour market economist for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, comments:

"Some measures suggest a cooling labour market. Vacancies continue to fall for the eight consecutive time indicating a softening of demand for staff, but unemployment remains incredibly low at 3.7% indicating there are fewer available candidates. This highlights the need for the Chancellor’s Budget to focus on a broad range of measures to boost labour market supply and help more people to get back into work.

"Pay is still rising but prices are rising faster and each month the cost-of-living crisis casts more gloom on family finances. Though inflation is coming down, prices still rose by 10.1%, eclipsing today’s figures which show regular pay growing at 6.5%. A pattern that we are getting used to now is the gap between public and private sector pay. The former grew at just 4.8% while the latter grew by 7%. This will make recruitment and retention in the public sector harder as time goes on.

"Ahead of the Budget, policymakers will be considering how to boost labour supply to ease shortages and ensure growth. Today’s stats show that although the economic inactivity rate decreased, it remains 1.1% higher than pre-pandemic. Policymakers should focus on boosting labour supply from all age groups, and there is an urgent need to reform  the Apprenticeship Levy into a training and skills levy. This is reinforced by CIPD research, which finds that there are more 16-24-year-olds not working but who would like to work, than there are 50-64-year-olds, despite the latter being the focus of reducing economic inactivity. More funding is needed for apprenticeships for young people and increased flexibility for employers to train their existing workforce through other forms of training and development."

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