UK Labour Market Shows Signs of Cooling with Rising Unemployment and Job Losses

UK Labour Market Shows Signs of Cooling with Rising Unemployment and Job Losses

...By Henry George for TDPel Media.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals concerning trends in the UK labour market, coinciding with Vodafone’s announcement of significant job cuts.


While some indicators suggest improvements in the acute labour shortages that have plagued the economy due to Covid and Brexit, other statistics point to potential challenges ahead.

Unemployment Rate and Job Losses

The unemployment rate for the January to March quarter increased by 0.1% to reach 3.9%, which, although still relatively low historically, indicates a slight rise.

Furthermore, April witnessed a significant fall of 136,000 in the number of payrolled employees, signaling a potential acceleration in job losses caused by the ongoing cost of living crisis.

This decline marks the first decrease since February 2021. Additionally, job vacancies declined for the tenth consecutive month, dropping by 55,000 to a total of 1.083 million.

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The rise in the unemployment rate and the decline in payrolled employees highlight the challenging economic conditions faced by the UK.

These figures suggest that employers may be shifting towards firing rather than hiring, possibly reflecting the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic and Brexit.


Inactivity Rate and Long-Term Sickness

Although the inactivity rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points to 21%, indicating a rise in activity, the number of individuals unable to work due to long-term sickness reached an all-time high of 2.55 million.

Despite this concerning trend, wage growth remains robust, with average regular pay surging at 6.7% and reaching 7% in the private sector.

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The increase in long-term sickness cases reflects the challenges faced by individuals in maintaining employment due to health issues.

However, the strong wage growth suggests that those who remain employed are experiencing favorable compensation, which could support consumer spending and economic stability.

Economists’ Perspectives and Market Expectations

Economists analyzing the data have observed a mixed picture.

They note that employers are more likely to be in firing mode rather than hiring mode based on the available evidence.

However, financial markets still indicate a 68% probability of an interest rate hike of a quarter-point in June.


The varying interpretations of the data highlight the uncertainty surrounding the current state of the labour market and the broader economic landscape.

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The potential interest rate hike suggests that policymakers are monitoring the situation closely and considering measures to manage economic challenges.


The ONS data indicates a cooling trend in the UK labour market, with rising unemployment rates, job losses, and a decline in job vacancies.

While the economy continues to grapple with the impacts of the Covid pandemic and Brexit, robust wage growth provides some resilience.

However, the challenges faced by individuals unable to work due to long-term sickness highlight the need for continued support and intervention.

The evolving situation calls for close monitoring to assess the long-term implications for the UK’s economic recovery.


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