PwC comments on the latest labour market data

Jing Teow, senior economist at PwC, comments on today's labour market data:

"The labour market remains on a path to gradual recovery, with average weekly hours worked increasing by record levels in the three months to August. The number of payroll employees appears to have stabilised, after falling by more than 693,000 since March 2020 before the lockdown, while vacancies increased by a record increase of 144,000 in the third quarter this year as business activity recovered following the lockdown.

"However, with the UK now facing a ‘second wave’, the outlook for the labour market and job prospects remains uncertain. While the number of people temporarily away from work has declined to just under one-fifth of employees, not all workers have been brought back successfully from furlough, as reflected by the increase in the unemployment rate. The number of redundancies has doubled in the three months to August compared to the previous three months.

"What’s more worrying is the rise in economic inactivity or the share of working-age people dropping out of the labour market, which shows just how challenging it is for workers who have lost their jobs to find new opportunities. Regions that have seen substantial increase in inactivity are also those that have experienced large job losses in the past, such as the East Midlands and the North East, which have an industrial legacy, or places like the South West where there is a strong dependence on hard-hit sectors like hospitality and leisure.

"Should these differences persist, it could further exacerbate regional disparities in labour market outcomes and income. Targeted public support may be needed to prevent these workers from being left behind during the recovery."

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