“The jobs market remains buoyant with activity levels well ahead of pre-pandemic, even if things are not as fizzy as they were in 2022.
“The ONS rightly attributes slower hiring to employers feeling more risk-averse because of the sluggish economy. To counteract this, firms are tapping into the UK’s pool of high-quality temporary workers to help them grow.
“Pay is rising strongly, in response to both price rises and hiring challenges, but not at a rate that will cause further inflation.
“Though falling, both vacancies and economic inactivity remain well in advance of pre-pandemic levels. This means the defining feature of our labour market right now is still labour shortage, with total hours worked still below their pre-pandemic level. Addressing this shortage will be vital to getting the economy growing.
“The recent Budget was right to put the challenge of labour availability at the heart of the UK growth story. While moves on childcare were helpful, there is a lot more still to do, especially around skills reform and supporting those who want to work in more flexible ways, including contracting and agency work.”