LONDON — The UK unemployment rate remained stable at 4.1% in the final quarter of 2021 and likely declined in January, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday.
The statement also confirmed that fewer Britons are working than before the pandemic.
Although the number of employees on the payroll increased in January and now exceeds pre-pandemic levels, “the number of people in employment overall is much lower than it was before than COVID-19 hits,” said ONS chief economics officer Sam Beckett. “It’s because there are now a lot fewer self-employed people.”
About 400,000 people, mostly over the age of 50, “have completely disengaged from the world of work and are not working or looking for work”, he said, with data indicating an increase in diseases of long term, among other factors. .
Job vacancies also hit a new high, marking what the Institute of Employment Studies called “the tightest job market in fifty years.”
“These labor shortages are now holding back our recovery and will deepen the crisis in living standards,” think tank director Tony Wilson said.
Meanwhile, wage growth in the last quarter of 2021 fell 0.1% after adjusting for inflation, but picked up again in January. Last month, wage growth reached 6.3% compared to January 2021, exceeding the inflation rate of 5.4% recorded in December.
“The stronger wage growth…suggests not only higher costs for businesses, but also less pressure on real incomes, and therefore stronger demand,” HSBC economists said in a note. to customers. They raised concerns that inflation would rise even more than previously thought, putting pressure on the Bank of England to step up its rate hikes.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak accentuated the positive, saying in a press release that the government’s support measures during the pandemic meant the labor market “is now healthier than most could have hoped”.
Opposition Chief Secretary to the Treasury Pat McFadden, however, criticized the Tory leadership, saying the figures “confirm that workers are still facing a fragile recovery in the face of a growing cost of living crisis and a rampant inflation”.