Employment surge as 'firms hire rather than invest'

By agency reporter
March 20, 2019

Britain’s job market broke new ground, with employment increasing by a huge 222,000 and hitting 76.1 per cent for the first time since World War Two, the Resolution Foundation said in response to the latest ONS labour market figures.

The Foundation says the latest data shows that while business investment and growth stagnated at the end of 2018, firms are choosing instead to hire new staff. The recent surge in employment in the three months to January 2019 has been driven by older people (+120,000), women (+130,000) and full-time employees (+90,000).

While nominal pay growth remained at 3.4 per cent, easing inflationary pressures mean that real wage growth strengthened to 1.4 per cent. The Foundation adds that it could return to pre-referendum levels in the coming months, but that levels of weekly pay still remain £9 lower than they were a decade ago.

Stephen Clarke, Senior Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “While business investment has stagnated, firms are choosing instead to invest heavily in new staff. As a result, the proportion of people in work is at its highest rate since the war, and Britain is closing in on Nordic employment rates.

“This encouraging jobs growth is benefitting women and those traditionally left out of the labour market. It is even starting to have a knock-on effect on still historically weak pay rises. This is crucial for driving a long overdue pay recovery for workers, but may be held back if firms’ reluctance to invest continues.”

* Resolution Foundation https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/

[Ekk/6]

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