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Latest ONS statistics show overall improvement in employment but continued pressures in the public sector

Posted on 13/01/2014 by Jamie Horton in Category Managed Services
UK economic recovery is gathering momentum and appears to be having a positive overall impact on employment figures according to the most recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) labour market survey for August to October 2013.

It is encouraging to see that 72.% of people aged 16 to 64 were employed in Q3, this is up 250,000 on the previous quarter and up 485,000 on the year.

However, what I found most interesting was that the percentage of over 65s who are employed reached 10% for the first time. We’ve previously reported this growing trend in our Government Index report and the evidence clearly shows that older workers are choosing to remain in the workforce for longer. The positive aspect of this is that the skills and experience of older workers are being retained by employers, but on the negative side this could mean reduced employment opportunities for younger workers.

In terms of unemployment, the figures remain high at 2.39million. However, there is an improving picture as this number has fallen by 99,000 on the last quarter, and 121,000 down on the year. It is also encouraging to see the number of people aged 16 and over who are actively seeking and are available to work has been lowered from 7.7%.to 7.4%  

However, permanent employment in the public sector is at its lowest level since 2009. A total of 5.7m or 18.8% of all people employed in the UK were working in the public sector, down 0.9% on the year - 1.6m working in the National Health Service, 1.5m in education, 1.1m in public administration and 1.5m classified as other.

Employment in the sector is now at its lowest level since the Labour Market Statistics began in 2009. What is clear is that the continued pressure on the public sector is placing a greater onus on temporary labour to fill the void and assist in the delivery of public services. Our most recent Government Index​ provides further evidence to support this and shows that temporary labour usage was 4.6% higher in July to September 2013, when compared to the previous year.

Making up for the declines in public sector employment was a 2.2% improvement in private sector employment in the year. So whilst the public sector struggles, overall these were a positive set of figures from the ONS.​