Labour market update: youth unemployment stubborn

  • In the three months to March 2015 employment rose by 202,000 while unemployment fell by 35,000.
  • The proportion of people aged 16-64 in work was 73.5%, the highest since records began in 1971.
  • The total unemployment rate fell to 5.5%, while youth unemployment declined to 15.9%.
  • Comparing January – March 2015 with a year earlier total pay including bonuses was 1.9% higher and pay excluding bonuses was 2.2% higher.

Commenting on the labour market statistics for May 2015, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“The latest figures confirm that the labour market remains a major source of strength for the UK economy – with record numbers of people in work, and unemployment continuing to fall. It is also pleasing that earnings continue to increase, confirming the improvement in living standards.

“However, there are some areas of unease, the quarterly fall in unemployment was the smallest since the summer 2013 and the youth unemployment rate is still almost three times as high as the national average. It would therefore be premature for the broad positivity in the latest jobs figures to lead to an early increase in interest rates. Businesses need a continued period of stability in order to deliver the growth and prosperity that we want to see.”

David Bharier, BCC Business Insight Manager said:

“The BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey has shown steady year-on-year growth in employment levels since the 2008-09 recession. The percentage balance of manufacturing firms who saw an expansion in their workforce stood at +32% in Q1 2015, up from +31% in Q1 2014. For service sector firms, the balance stood at +20%, up from +16% in the previous year.”