Labour Research May 2023


Labour market indicators

There were still over a million vacancies in January-March (1,105,000). But the number was down, with some employers saying that continuing economic uncertainties are holding back recruitment.

Employment and unemployment were both up slightly in December-January (employment 75.8%, unemployment 3.8%), tallying with a small drop in “economic inactivity” (down by 0.4 percentage points to 21.1%).

Growth in average weekly earnings accelerated a little, with a 6.9% increase in regular pay over the year to February (7.0% on total pay including bonuses).

However, the overall figure has been shifting between 6.0% and 6.9% since last September, so it doesn’t really mean pay is catching up with inflation.

More significant is the narrowing gap in earnings growth between the private and public sectors. The private sector was 4 to 5 percentage points ahead last summer, but the public sector has picked up.

While regular pay grew by 7.3% in the private sector over the year to February, the public sector (which employs 5.8 million) is not as far behind now as it has been, on 5.5%.

Meanwhile, 348,000 working days were lost because of labour disputes in February 2023. This was up from 210,000 in January 2023. Over three-fifths were in the education sector.