IoD: ‘Record employment shows benefits of flexible labour market’

Responding to the official labour market figures, showing that the number of people in work increased and the number of unemployed decreased between March-May 2017, Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment and Skills Policy at the Institute of Directors, said:

“Today’s figures are a great demonstration of the strength and benefits of the UK’s flexible labour market. There are now 32 million people in work – 324,000 more people than last year –  meaning the employment rate is, again, at a new record high (74.9%). The unemployment rate (4.5%) is also at its lowest since 1975.

“Part of this success is undoubtedly thanks to the ‘gig’ economy and modern flexible employment practices. As the Taylor Review acknowledged yesterday, and today’s ONS figures back up, easier routes into employment and self-employment have led to rising workplace participation for those who have historically struggled to find a job, notably single parents, disabled individuals, and the long-term unemployed.

“However, the fact that real earnings (including bonuses) are down 0.7% on the year is a concern. The spike in inflation is putting a squeeze on household disposable income at a time when poor productivity means wage growth remains slow. Economic and political uncertainty is also having an effect on businesses. A recent IoD survey showed a dramatic drop in confidence, which is concerning if it begins to feed into investment and wage decisions. Company directors are keen to see quick agreement on bridging arrangements with the EU so that business can start to plan for the future, which will ultimately boost productivity and income for workers.”