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Mixed picture for employers on jobs and wages

The number of job vacancies in the UK continued to fall, dropping by 43,000 to 988,000 between July and September, according to the Office for National Statistics.

But despite the decline in overall figures, the total number of vacancies remains 187,000 above that seen in January to March 2020 before the COVID pandemic hit the economy.

However, average pay growth rose above inflation for the first time in almost two years, in a sign that the squeeze on living costs may be starting to ease.

Wages rose at an annual rate of 7.8% between June and August. People employed in finance and business services saw the largest rise in annual pay, followed by those in the manufacturing sector.

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director of Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “There are some positive signs in this data – as vacancies continue to fall and the total number of jobs in the economy remains near record highs.

“But businesses are still finding it tough. Vacancies remain well above pre-pandemic levels and BCC research tells us almost three quarters of firms trying to recruit are struggling to get the people they need.

“Wages are outpacing inflation, with candidate’s expectations and workforce pay settlements remaining a major concern for employers.

“With recent shifts in government policy, and continued economic uncertainty clouding the picture ahead, it is likely some firms are adopting a wait and see approach on recruitment.

“Underneath these headline figures the skills crisis continues and the overall picture remains challenging. Policymakers must do more to help businesses invest in skills and, at the same time, find ways to ease sectoral labour supply pinch points.”

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