Considering the depth of the recession, the labour market has been surprisingly resilient compared with previous recessions.
The latest unemployment rate data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) dropped unexpectedly to 7.7% in the three months to April. The numbers of people unemployed fell by 88,000 to reach 2.43 million February 2009 – the largest drop in a decade. It compares with 9.9 per cent in the eurozone, 9.1 per cent in the US and 4.7 per cent in Japan.
However, the data was mixed with the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance in May rising by 19,600 to 1.49m, the biggest rise since July 2009.
Relief to the Bank of England comes in the form of muted wage growth with earnings including bonuses increasing by an annual 1.8 per cent in the three months to April, down from 2.4 per cent in the three months to March. Excluding bonuses, the figure was 2 per cent, down from 2.1 per cent.
With retail the largest private sector employer and over a third of the workforce aged under 25, the growth of retail employment will provide vital opportunities for this group of economically inactive people.
The BRC and Bond Pearce Retail Employment Monitor showed that retail employment rose marginally by just 0.5% on a full-time equivalent basis. However, employment intentions, with reveal the appetite to take on new staff fell sharply.