Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

ONS labour market statistics: planned immigration restrictions threaten economic growth and public services

Today’s labour market statistics raise big questions over the government’s plans to end ‘low-skilled’ migration to the UK, announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday.

The UK jobs market remained stable in the three months to November, according to today’s ONS figures, with the employment rate growing by 0.6% compared with the same period last year. Total employment now stands at 76.3%, while unemployment is at 3.8%, 0.2% lower than the same period last year. There were 805,000 job vacancies for October-December 2019, 11,000 fewer than the previous three months and 49,000 fewer than the same period a year earlier.  

However, the REC’s JobsOutlook survey shows businesses are worried about being able to recruit the skills they need. More than half (52%) of employers are worried about skills shortages for permanent staff – meanwhile employer confidence in the economy is at a low point.

Neil Carberry, CEO at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said:

“There are two sides to today’s labour market statistics. On one hand it’s great news that the UK labour market has remained so steady in the face of uncertainty, and the economy continues to keep record numbers of people in work. On the other however, businesses want to grow but are struggling to find the right people in such tight conditions. Employers in construction, education and social care – three sectors that are at the core of our prosperity – need workers at all skill levels.

“We need an immigration system that is controlled and works for the whole economy. The government must to be careful not to cut businesses off from the essential skills they need. It would be a big win for the government to introduce a temporary immigration route to meet the needs of the economy for some workers at lower pay and skill levels. This will help businesses succeed post-Brexit and support the jobs and growth here in the UK.”