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Is the UK’s recent labour market boom finally running out of steam?

Nigel Meager, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, comments on today's ONS Labour Market Statistics:

'Most of the key indicators of labour demand have worsened slightly in the latest official labour market statistics. This is unsurprising, given the poor recent figures on GDP growth.

‘Total employment and total hours worked are both down on the previous quarter. Total unfilled vacancies for the period from August to October are also down on the previous three month period from July to September 2017. On the positive side, unemployment has continued to fall, and we now have the lowest official unemployment rate since the mid-1970s. However, this would normally follow changes in employment with a bit of a lag, so we might expect unemployment to start drifting up in the next few months.

‘It is notable that the other main indicator of worklessness in the working-age population (economic inactivity) has been increasing recently to 21.6 per cent. Indeed, today’s statistics release shows the largest quarterly increase in economic inactivity since the three months to January 2010. While it is early days, and the next few months’ statistics will be needed to confirm this, these data certainly raise the question of whether the long and sustained recent labour market boom is finally running out of steam.’