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Optimism for UK jobs market

18 January 2022
Our employment experts across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland comment on the latest labour market statistics.

Joanne Frew, Global Deputy Head of Employment& Pensions at DWF, comments on the ONS labour market figure published today. She said:

"The latest ONS figures provide a positive start to the New Year with continued recovery in the labour market.  The headlines for the period between September and November 2021 show a UK employment rate at an estimated 75.5%, 0.2% higher than the previous quarter.  The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 4.1%, 0.4% lower than the previous quarter.  Two out of the three months reported on reflect a period when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was closed, providing a clear indication that the cliff edge of job losses feared following the withdrawal of the Scheme did not materialise.   

"Undoubtedly the labour market figures will see the impact of the Omicron variant and tighter restrictions, including the "Plan B" restrictions in England, hitting over the Christmas and New Year period, in particular in industries such as hospitality and tourism.  However, with the continued drive on booster vaccinations and the latest trend in cases showing a reduction in daily figures, we anticipate with hopeful optimism that the labour market will remain robust and will be able to ride out the storm. " 

Ann Frances Cooney, an employment law partner at DWF leading the Scottish employment law practice, comments on today's Labour Market Trends. She said: 

"The latest labour market figures for Scotland remain encouraging, providing a positive start to the New Year.  

"The headline figures for September to November 2021 show an estimated unemployment rate of 3.6%, down 0.8% over the quarter. By way of comparison Scotland's unemployment rate was below the UK rate of 4.1%.  The estimated employment rate was 75.1%, an increase of 0.8% over the quarter. 

"Scotland's employment rate was below the UK rate of 75.5%. Two out of the three months reported on, reflect a period when the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was closed, providing a clear indication that the cliff edge of job losses feared following the withdrawal of the Scheme did not materialise.  

"Undoubtedly, the labour market figures will see the impact of the Omicron variant hitting over the Christmas and New Year period, in particular in industries such as hospitality and tourism.  However, with Nicola Sturgeon "cautiously optimistic" about Scotland's coronavirus situation and the number of cases reducing daily, we anticipate with hopeful optimism that the labour market will remain robust and will be able to ride out the storm."


Elizabeth Colvin, employment law solicitor at DWF in Belfast, comments on the NI Labour Market Report, released today. She said:

"The latest LMR shows signs of continued improvement in the NI labour market. The number of employees receiving pay through HMRC PAYE in NI in December 2021 was 773,400 which is an increase of 0.6% over the month and 5.0% over the year. This is the highest on record and the six consecutive month that employee numbers have been above pre-COVID levels. 

"Headline figures for the period between September and November 2021 showed that the unemployment rate decreased by 1.0 percentage points (pps) over the quarter and increased by 0.1pps over the year while the total number of weekly hours worked in NI was estimated at 28.3 million, an increase of 4.3% on the previous quarter. These figures reflect a positive quarter for the local labour market and has allayed some fears of significant unemployment arising from the recent closure of the coronavirus job retention scheme and new Omicron variant."
 
If you require any further information, please get in touch with our employment team.

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