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

“Extra volatility and slimmed down reporting from the ONS mean we shouldn’t read too much into small movements, but we can have more confidence in the broad-brush picture of the labour market. Wages aren’t growing as fast as in previous months, but with inflation on the way down wage growth is still delivering real-terms growth and boosting spending power.

“Unemployment remains low, particularly in relation to historical norms. However, with historically high numbers of people inactive due to long term sick, businesses are struggling to secure candidates, even while vacancies continue to fall. Addressing the UK’s ill-health must be a key priority for the Government.

“A survey reweighting exercise by the ONS suggested that inactivity due to ill-health is higher than previously estimated. The reduction in workers is compounding labour supply difficulties and limiting UK growth. Breaking down barriers to working for people with health conditions must be a priority for policymakers and employers. It’s imperative to prioritise occupational health services, to prevent individuals from exiting the workforce prematurely. Additionally, employers should be aware of the impact that stress in the workplace can have on people’s health and take steps to address this. This means careful attention to job design, and addressing heavy and unsustainable workloads.”

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