Commenting on the Labour Market Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at CIPD, said: “We have recently seen unemployment start to fall quickly and forecasts being revised downwards but, even so, today’s figures are a surprise with the headline unemployment rate falling from 7.4% to 7.1% in a single month. We should remember these figures are statistics with margins of error attached to them and this does not mean we should expect to see falls of this size every month. Nevertheless, today’s figures are consistent with the state of the labour market last autumn. Our own Labour Market Outlook and other labour market surveys have shown consistently increasing confidence and hiring intentions. In addition, the claimant count has been falling quickly ever since the summer and this might now also be feeding through into the headline measure.
“Looking beneath the headline figures, half of the last quarter’s employment growth was due to a sharp increase in self-employment. The number of people who were working part-time because they could not find a full-time job has now started to fall. And probably the best news of all is that we have seen noticeable falls in the number of young people unemployed and the number of people unemployed for over a year.