UK labour market data – “first fall in the number of payrolled employees for over two years is a red flag” – reaction

by | May 16, 2023

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Following the publication of the latest UK labour market data this morning, advisers and other industry experts have been sharing their thoughts with free PR platform, Newspage. Their comments, as you’ll see below, reveal that there are plenty of concerns about the way the economy is heading:

Wes Wilkes, CEO at the wealth manager, Net-Worth Ntwrk“The labour market has held up well given the sheer number of headwinds in recent years but there are now signs that it is starting to give. The first fall in the number of payrolled employees for over two years, though caveated, is a red flag. As growth softens and a potential recession hits, it may be that the market loosens, unemployment rises at a faster rate than it already is and we see wage growth slow significantly and the number of people on payrolls drop off further. However, it may be that this won’t happen in earnest until 2024. The UK labour market has been supported by significant wage growth since the pandemic but we may now be at peak tightness and peak wage growth.”

Ben Keighley, founder of social media recruitment specialist Socially Recruited comments:

“It remains an extremely tight jobs market but there are signs that the UK is picking up the slack on productivity.


“The slight rise in employment and fall in economic activity are positive signs against the ongoing decline in real pay caused by inflation. “While another fall in vacancies speaks to wider uncertainties among employers, the number of available jobs is still above a million. This, coupled with the recent growth in part-time self-employed workers, suggests businesses still have plenty of work to do to attract talent.”

Bradley Lay, a small business adviser at Bradley Lay“The unemployment rate is rising, while job vacancies and the number of payrolled employees are down, which reflects the deep uncertainty among UK businesses at present. Behind these numbers lies a bleak reality of economic uncertainty and a looming recession. This latest jobs data is a stark reminder of the harsh realities facing the UK economy, and a warning that things may get worse before they get better.”

Ian Hepworth, director of Croydon-based Funding Solutions UK“Unemployment may have risen slightly but in economic terms it is still very low and would be considered full employment. This highlights the challenge the economy faces in terms of growth. It is not as simple as getting people into work. The level of economic inactivity has dropped, suggesting the cost of living crisis is forcing people to return to work.”


Mark Grant of Gloucester-based business finance broker, The Business Finance Branch: “Our clients’ overall experience of hiring at the moment is a lack of the right people for jobs in the right location, and a higher cost of hiring in terms of salary and often agency fees where they haven’t been able to attract people directly. This can add to the overall cost and risks associated with growth, just when they have had the confidence to push ahead with expansion plans. Expectations are that hiring will continue to face the same issues throughout 2023 and the businesses we are working with, where they can, are increasing their recruitment budget accordingly.”

Sandra Wilson, director of Ipswich-based recruitment and HR firm, Cottrell Moore: “There are definitely more skilled candidates available and looking to work than a few months ago. Our average time to fill a vacancy has reduced in the past few weeks and our advert response rate is up by 20%. This is a sure sign that the balance is beginning to level out. The worry, of course, is if the balance shifts too much and we end up in a downward spiral. Employers need to keep steadfast and ride out this tricky terrain where perhaps fortune favours the brave. Hopefully, companies will grasp the opportunity to drive their business forward, having struggled for some time to get quality and skilled candidates.”

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