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Firms’ workforce worries continue

The unemployment rate went up, job vacancies fell and wage growth caught up with rising prices, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics for May to July.

The unemployment rate rose to 4.3% from 4.2% a month earlier, while job vacancies fell to below a million. Regular pay, excluding bonuses, rose by 7.8%.

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Today’s figures show pay for individuals may be improving, but the current situation offers little comfort to businesses up and down the country. Firms are still struggling to contain wage inflation arising from candidate’s expectations and workforce pay settlements. 

“At the same time, recruitment issues remain a top concern for business. The latest research by the BCC shows record numbers of organisations reporting hiring difficulties – particularly in the hospitality, retail and manufacturing sectors.  

“The fall in the overall number of job vacancies reflects a weakening economic outlook and BCC’s Quarterly Economic Forecast published last week predicts further growth in unemployment during the next three years. 

“Underneath these headline figures the skills crisis continues and the labour market picture will remain challenging. Our message to policymakers is clear, invest in skills now for a more prosperous economy.”

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