Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) comments as follows on official labour market statistics for the period October-December 2011 published earlier today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS):
“The latest headline jobs data are considerably better than expected but closer analysis indicates that the UK labour market was in the doldrums at the end of 2011, neither contracting dramatically nor mounting anything approaching a decent recovery. As the CIPD has noted in recent months the UK jobs market is experiencing a slow, painful contraction that will see unemployment crawl toward close to 3 million by the end of 2012, rather than a sudden surge of joblessness.
“Though very welcome a relatively small rise in unemployment and an increase in part-time jobs, combined with below inflation average pay rises will do little to instil a feel good factor in the UK workforce. Indeed, most of the rise in employment seems to be among underemployed ‘reluctant part-timers’ who can’t secure the full-time jobs and incomes they seek. There is little to suggest this situation will improve any time soon unless economic growth and labour demand greatly exceed most current forecasts.
“What the latest jobs data also suggest is that November was a particularly poor month for the labour market, which may reflect the influence of concern about the euro-area debt crisis on employer confidence. This highlights the importance of securing a resolution on the euro problem as quickly as possible.”