Jump in UK productivity as unemployment falls

Latest data from the ONS shows a continuing drop in unemployment in the UK and a boost in productivity for the third quarter of 2017. Employment of EU expats in the UK increased significantly.

Productivity on the increase in the UK
Productivity in the UK increased in the third quarter of the year, when there was also a slight drop in the record numbers in employment, official figures showed.

Unemployment numbers continue to shrink

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also showed that the jobless total over the three months to the end of September fell by 59,000 to 1.4 million, its lowest total for more than 12 years. But while the total in work stood at a near-record of more than 32 million, the figure was down 14,000 on the previous quarter.Wages, meanwhile, increase at 2.2 per cent over the year ­– still trailing the annual inflation rate of three per cent.

EU expat numbers in UK increases

The ONS also said the number of expats from other EU nations working in the UK increased by 112,000 to 2.38 million in Q3, while the total of non-EU nationals fell by 23,000 to 1.21 million. The employment rate for EU nationals stood at 81.6 per cent, compared to 75.3 per cent for indigenous workers.Matt Hughes, ONS statistician, said, “After two years of almost uninterrupted growth, employment has declined slightly. However, it remains higher than it was this time last year and, as always, we would caution people against reading too much into one quarter’s data.”
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Productivity growing in the UK albeit slowly

Philip Wales, ONS head of productivity, added, “While the latest quarterly growth rate is the strongest for six years, over the last 12 months productivity has grown by just 0.6 per cent. The medium-term picture continues to be one of productivity growing but at a much slower rate than seen before the financial crisis.”Employment Minister Damian Hinds said, “The strength of the economy is driving an increase in full-time, permanent jobs and a near-record number of people are now in work thanks to the government’s welfare reforms.“When unemployment fell to five per cent early last year, many people thought it couldn’t get much lower, and yet it now stands at 4.3 per cent. Everyone should be given the opportunity to find work and enjoy the stability of a regular pay packet. We’ve cut income tax for 30 million people since 2010, meaning people keep more of their money each month.”However, the Resolution Foundation think-tank, voiced fears the Britain’s jobs market had arrived at a plateau. Stephen Clarke, the foundation’s economic analyst, said, “After years of impressive growth, there are signs that the labour market may be losing momentum.“The still strong picture on employment still refuses to have any meaningful impact on wage growth, as Britain’s pay squeeze is getting deeper.“Today’s welcome productivity figures offer a glimmer of hope on pay, though it’s too early to say whether it can grow into a meaningful recovery.”

Healthcare posts significant jobs increase

But David Clift, HR director at totaljobs, said, “Today’s news marks the latest impressive landmark for employment figures, which have remained stable throughout a year largely defined by uncertainty.“Not since 1975 when Margaret Thatcher defeated Edward Heath for the leadership of the Conservative Party have unemployment figures been lower. “Data from totaljobs has found that a number of industries are continuing to perform strongly, with the healthcare seeing a seven per cent, month-on-month increase in job postings.“Rarely a day seems to go by at the moment without a major news event threatening stability on the domestic or global stage. However, if 2017 has been a year where few things have remained consistent, one thing we have learnt is that the job market is able to withstand such external pressures.”For related news and features, visit our Enterprise section.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory