Why labour statistics represent promise for Yorkshire businesses

The latest labour market statistics represent promise for businesses in the region, according to the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce but it has warned that any further delays to the coronavirus recovery roadmap may threaten progress.

Martin Hathaway, managing director of the chamber, said: “The decline in unemployment and rise in payroll employment is a promising sight".

There were an estimated 657,000 job vacancies advertised between February and April, which represents a growth of 8 per cent, 48,400, compared with the last quarter.

Martin Hathaway, managing director of the Chamber, said: “The decline in unemployment and rise in payroll employment is a promising sight and confirms our hopes that the UK jobs market is beginning to bounce back from the tragic effects of the pandemic.

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“Ongoing financial support from the government and the reopening of the economy has helped to drive employment and bring those who were furloughed back into work.

“We are optimistic about the increase in job vacancies as this points to an encouraging rise in demand for labour as the economy reopens.

“UK unemployment looks on track to peak at a much lower level than in recent recessions, which is a positive outcome.

“However, any delays to the planned roadmap, and subsequent full reopening of the economy, may see the current trajectory taking a dip, creating renewed job losses, particularly if government support doesn’t keep in line with the roadmap, allowing firms to fall behind once again.”

Analysts said the ONS data showed the labour market was preparing for the end of many of the curbs imposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in January, thanks to the country’s swift Covid-19 vaccination programme. Yael  Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, said: “As the economy prepares to re-open fully and economic activity picks up, businesses have increased their hiring to meet the rise in demand.”

Chamber board member Andy Turner, managing director of First Choice Recruitment, said: “As a recruitment agency, we are quickly approaching our 30th year in business and we have seen many ups and downs, including three recessions, but I’ve seen nothing like the current market.

“Certain sectors have been decimated by Covid-19 but many others have flourished creating job shortages in most other sectors. These shortages are threatening the country’s recovery.

“The extremely generous furloughing scheme is masking the real situation of which we won’t know the real effect until this scheme closes in September but before the virus hit us, we were, in effect, in full employment made worse with the net loss of lots of our Eastern European co-workers who have left probably never to return – although the figures don’t agree, I suspect we are approaching full employment once more at a rapid rate.

“We are certainly seeing a massive upturn in demand for staff especially in manufacturing, production and associated industries as we all continue to eat and drink, some people have more disposable income all multiplied by ‘staycations’.

“It may take a change of direction for some people as they re-think their career, but I’d encourage anyone to look at their own transferable skills as the rewards will follow.”

Simon Robinson, director of Huddersfield-based Red Diamond Executive Headhunters, said the figures supported the current feeling of positivity.

He added: “As the UK emerges from restrictions, some big hitters are already announcing their intention to recruit, which is really positive.

“The news that the economy has grown by 2.1 per cent in March is also cause for optimism that we are beginning to get back on track.

“The recovery from an event as devastating as this pandemic will inevitably be a slow process but we can be cautiously optimistic about the jobs market and the economy as a whole.”

Sign that economy is picking up

Modest increases in employment rates and the highest level of vacancies since March 2020 indicate stability in the jobs market and a sign that the economy is picking up, says Gill North, industrial manager at Huddersfield employment agency Stafflex.

She said: We predict that business confidence will continue to grow as a result of the UK’s strong and robust vaccination programme which has enabled the country to open up again.

“The worst hit industries such as arts, travel and entertainment will start to recover in the third quarter and fourth quarter provided that there are no further outbreaks of different coronavirus variants.”

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James Mitchinson