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Unfilled vacancies pile more pressure on businesses

THE Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its latest Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates for March to May 2022 which show that over the quarter, there was an increase in the employment rate, while unemployment and economic inactivity rates decreased.

The UK employment rate increased by 0.4 percentage points on the quarter to 75.9%, but is still below pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic levels. The number of full-time employees increased during the latest three-month period to a record high. Part-time employees also increased during the latest three-month period, continuing to show a recovery from the large falls in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of self-employed workers fell during the coronavirus pandemic and has remained low, although the number has increased during the latest three-month period. The increase was driven by part-time self-employed, and was largely offset by a decrease in the number of full-time self-employed.

The most timely estimate of payrolled employees for June 2022 shows a monthly increase, up 31,000 on the revised May 2022 figures, to a record 29.6 million.

The unemployment rate for March to May 2022 decreased by 0.1 percentage points on the quarter to 3.8%. Those unemployed for up to six months increased over the latest three-month period at the fastest rate since late 2020.

Commenting on the latest ONS Labour Market statistics released today, BCC Head of People Policy, Jane Gratton, said: “The labour market remains incredibly tight, in many cases affecting firms’ ability to maintain normal operations.  Although these figures show the employment rate has risen it is having no noticeable impact on the overall number of job vacancies.  

“The problems in the labour market are restricting growth and choking off any hope of a recovery for many firms; as inflation, supply chain disruption and energy costs also add to their headaches.   

But there are several avenues open to businesses and the government to shift this data in the right direction.       

“We need to bring more economically inactive people back into the UK labour market by offering flexible working practices, rapid re-training opportunities and a focus on workplace healthcare and support. 

“The Government must also reform the Shortage Occupations List criteria to include more jobs at more skill levels to give firms breathing space to train and upskill their workforce. 

“The huge number of vacancies is holding back productivity and growth, and employers are at their wits’ end.” 

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