13 Sep, 2012

Job numbers skip the double dip

13 Sep, 2012

The UK’s Employment Outlook now stands at its strongest level since 2008, according to ManpowerGroup, the world leader in innovative workforce solutions. With an Outlook of +3%, employers across the UK are looking to take on staff in the final months of 2012 despite the gloomy macro-economic picture.

  • National Outlook of +3% for the final quarter of 2012 – UK jobs outlook hasn’t been higher since before the 2008 crunch
  • For the first time in 4 years, UK employers of all sizes are hiring – despite the depressing economic environment

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey is based on responses from 2,100 UK employers. It asks whether employers intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming economic quarter. It is the most comprehensive, forward-looking employment survey of its kind and is used as a key economic statistic by both the Bank of England and the UK government. The national Seasonally Adjusted Net Employment Outlook of +3%1 indicates that the jobs market is firmly in positive territory, building on the promise shown in the third quarter of 2012 when the Outlook was +2%.

“We’ve been saying that the jobs market is heading in the right direction since the beginning of the year. Understandably this has been met with scepticism because of the disappointing GDP figures. However in recent months the official employment statistics have started to catch up with our predictions. Over 300,000 jobs2 have been created this year – that’s a good year’s worth already. What we are seeing is a double dip jobs blip and the good news is that the UK jobs market is set for a further boost for the remainder of 2012, making it an extraordinary year for jobs and the strongest hiring environment of the year,” said James Hick, UK Managing Director of ManpowerGroup Solutions.

Whilst these latest figures are undoubtedly a cause for optimism, they do come with a health warning. The labour market is complex and employees are warned that jobs these days come in all shapes and sizes. Hick adds: “The days of a job for life are well and truly over. Businesses are looking for flexibility when it comes to recruiting – that might mean going for a position that only pays on the sales you deliver. Take RAC for example: it is currently looking for people to sell breakdown cover at motorway service stations. These are self-employed roles, but someone who works hard and does well here can easily end up very well rewarded, earning well above the national average. And you don’t need any specialist qualifications for a job like this, just determination and the will to succeed. This is particularly important for young people looking for work.”

The latest figures show that for the first time in four years, UK employers of all sizes are hiring. Large (+7%), small (+5%), and medium-sized (+9%) businesses have indicated their intention to recruit for some time, but for the first time since the summer of 2008, micro sized business (those employing between 1-9 members of staff) are talking about taking on new staff.

Whilst this is potentially significant, it is too early to evaluate what this means about the future direction of the economy because a micro-sized business could be anything from a corner shop to an entrepreneurial tech start-up company.

Regionally, the survey reveals interesting disparities across the UK. Employers in Wales report the most optimism with a +15% Outlook. The southern half of the UK continues to perform well with the South West reporting an Outlook of +5%, the East of England +4%, and the South East +3%. However, businesses in London are not expecting a strong post-Olympic lift, although they do retain a positive Outlook of +2%. There is no longer a clear North-South divide, according to the latest figures. Yorkshire and Humberside is the most negative region this time round, falling sharply to -8%, Scotland is also negative at -2% and the North West is down at -3%. In contrast, employers in the neighbouring North East report an Outlook of +9%. Meanwhile, in the East Midlands optimism remains at +6%, and the West Midlands shows similar positivity at +5%.

So which sectors are recruiting? Finance & Business Services is the most positive sector for Q4 2012 with a +9% Outlook. Meanwhile, Manufacturing sector employers report an encouraging Outlook of +5%. In the Utilities sector, employers mirror the Outlook of Manufacturing employers, although it declines considerably from +14% in the last quarter. Construction remains firmly in negative territory with an Outlook of -8%, albeit a small improvement on the last survey.

Hick continues: “These figures demonstrate that the uptick in the jobs market is no flash in the pan. The outlook is brighter for candidates, especially for those who are prepared to show flexibility when it comes to finding and securing a job. The more skills jobseekers have, the better they can dictate how, when and where they work in an increasingly complex and fragmented jobs market. Permanent posts with regular hours aren’t in as much abundance as they used to be, but that doesn’t have to be a negative. There is well rewarded work out there especially for those who are prepared to adjust, get ready for work and demonstrate they’ve got in-demand skills.”

1 All figures reported are based on seasonally adjusted data.

2 Office for National Statistics data

Credit: onrec.com