Second-quarter labour market figures - PwC comments

Aug 13, 2019

Commenting on the second-quarter's labour market data, PwC chief economist John Hawksworth said:

"Today's labour market data showed continued strong jobs growth in the second quarter of 2019, with the female employment rate rising to yet another record high. The male employment rate fell back slightly, however, and the total unemployment rate also edged up to 3.9% from 3.8% in the first quarter, although this remains close to historical lows.

There are increasing signs that the tight labour market is feeding through to higher earnings, with regular weekly pay growth picking up to almost 4% in the second quarter - the highest growth rate since before the financial crisis. This will continue to support consumer spending, which has been the main thing keeping the UK economy afloat over the past six months in the face of ongoing Brexit-related uncertainty and a slowing global economy.

The flip-side of strong jobs growth, however, is that productivity growth remains very weak. Output per hour was down by 0.6% in the second quarter of 2019 compared to the same quarter in 2018. Weak productivity growth reflects subdued corporate investment growth over the past three years as businesses wait for greater clarity on Brexit."

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