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Employees on payroll spike as job vacancies rise

New data from the ONS has found that sectors such as “hospitality, wholesaling and retailing” helped drive this push.


The labour market is showing further signs of recovery as new data has found that the number of employees on payroll rose by 356,000 in June 2021.


According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), this was still 206,000 fewer than in February 2020 before the pandemic struck.


Latest data from ONS found that employment was at 74.8%, while unemployment was at 4.8% for March to May 2021. Meanwhile, economic activity was at 21.3%.


From the same period, there were 862,000 job vacancies, now above the pre-pandemic level, with sectors including the arts and entertainment and accommodation and food services activities witnessing strong increases.


Commenting on the findings, Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics for the ONS, stated that while the figures are encouraging, the number of employees on payroll “is still over 200,000 down on pre-pandemic levels”.


In a Twitter thread shared by the ONS, he added: “The number of job vacancies continued to rise very strongly. The biggest sector driving this was hospitality, followed by wholesaling and retailing.


“As the economy gradually reopened, the unemployment rate fell in March to May. This was especially marked for younger people, who had been hardest hit by earlier lockdowns.”


The number of hours worked has also increased, as it was revealed that 981.4m hours were worked each week in March to May 2021. This is up 23.3m hours on the previous three months, which reflects the easing of coronavirus restrictions.


In addition, average pay after inflation in the same period saw annual growth of 5.6% including bonuses and 4.9% excluding bonuses, which could be attributed to fewer lower-paid jobs and comparison with early pandemic months in 2020.


Attracting the top talent

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), shared similar notions that the labour market has started to recover.


He continued: “Demand for staff is incredibly high right now, and recruiters are working flat out to fill roles – but serious worker shortages across the economy threaten to slow the recovery, especially in sectors like logistics, hospitality and IT.”


Carberry stated that as a result of this demand for talent, “firms need to be thinking hard about their offer to potential employees at a time like this”.


Bouncing back

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also welcomed the data, claiming that “we are bouncing back”.


He said: “The number of employees on payrolls is at its highest level since last April and the number of people on furlough halved in the three months to May,” reported the Guardian.


“As we approach the final stages of reopening the economy, I look forward to seeing more people back at work and the economy continuing to rebound.”

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