Gerwyn Davies, Senior Policy Adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, responds to the latest official labour market statistics published earlier today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and HMRC:

"These are very good figures for an economy passing through a fragile and uncertain period. It is encouraging that the number of people in work increased for the second consecutive month1 and that the number of job vacancies continues to tick up. What is more remarkable is that the relative improvement in the labour market is due to a rise in the number of full-time employees, which has risen to a record high.

"However, the most worrying concern is that the economy continued to shed jobs at the turn of the year at a very high rate, even if there are tentative signs that redundancy activity has fallen from its peak. Another worrying feature of the latest figures is the deteriorating job prospects for older workers. This age group has not only suffered the largest quarterly rise in unemployment but were also the most likely age group to be made redundant.

"Taken in the round, the latest jobs figures indicate that the labour market continues to withstand the pandemic headwinds better than anybody could have expected. However, it remains in a far from healthy state, which underlines further the need for the Chancellor to extend the furlough scheme into the summer."

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