Temporary employees up 9.2% but 400,000 people disengaged from work

The number of temporary employees in the UK increased by 9.16% on a seasonally adjusted basis to a total of approximately 1.71 million for the three-month period from October 2021 through December 2021 when compared to the same period a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics.

When compared to the previous three-month period ended November 2021, the number of temporary employees saw an uptick of 1.88%

Temporary workers are self-identified when surveyed by the ONS, and they include those who are on fixed-period contracts, temporary agency workers, casual workers, seasonal workers and others in temporary work.

The number of temporary employees as a percentage of total employment was 6.08%, up from 5.66% when compared to a year ago.

Of the 1.71 million temporary employees during the period ended December 2021, approximately 442,484 were temporary because they could not find a permanent job; 460,548 did not want a permanent job; 157,047 had a contract with a period of training; and 653,828 cited other reasons.

Of the 1.71 million temporary employees during the period, approximately 750,502 were men while 963,407 were women.

Meanwhile, ONS data the UK employment rate was estimated at 75.5%, 0.1% higher than the previous three-month period, but 1.0% lower than before the Covid-19 pandemic (December 2019 to February 2020).

For the three months ending December 2021, the highest employment rate estimate in the UK was in the East of England (79.1%); the lowest employment rate was in Northern Ireland (70.7%).

The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 4.1%, 0.2% lower than the previous three-month period, but 0.1% higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic. For the three months ending December 2021, the highest unemployment rate estimate in the UK was in the North East (5.6%) and the lowest was in Northern Ireland (2.7%).

The UK economic inactivity rate was estimated at 21.2%, 0.1% higher than the previous quarter, and 1.0% higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic. For the three months ending December 2021, the highest economic inactivity rate estimate in the UK was in Northern Ireland (27.3%) and the lowest was in the East of England (18.4%).

The period from November 2021 to January 2022 saw the number of vacancies reach another record high of 1,298,400, though the rate of growth continues to slow.

In November 2021 to January 2022, the total number of vacancies increased by 113,600 on the quarter with the largest increase of vacancies seen in accommodation and food service activities, which was up 21,400 to a new record of 178,300 vacancies.

In November 2021 to January 2022 the rate of growth was 9.6%, the lowest since February to April 2021, and down from 24.7% in the previous quarter.

Growth in average total pay (including bonuses) was 4.3% and growth in regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 3.7% among employees in October to December 2021. In real terms (adjusted for inflation), total and regular pay fell on the year at negative 0.1% for total pay and negative 0.8% for regular pay. Previous months' strong growth rates were affected upwards by base and compositional effects.

The most timely estimate of payrolled employees shows another monthly increase (up 108,000) in January 2022 to a record 29.5 million.

Single-month growth in real average total weekly earnings for December 2021 increased 0.1% on the year because of an increase in bonus payments compared with December 2020.

ONS head of economic statistics Sam Beckett, said, “The number of employees on payrolls rose again in January 2022 and is now well above pre-pandemic levels. However, our Labour Force Survey shows the number of people in employment overall is well below where it was before Covid-19 hit. This is because there are now far fewer self-employed people.”

“The survey also shows that unemployment has fallen again and is now only fractionally above where it was before the pandemic,” Beckett said. “However over the same period, nearly 400,000 people, mostly the over-50s, have disengaged from the world of work altogether and are neither working nor looking for a job. After taking account of recent rises in consumer prices, real total pay fell in the year to October-December 2021, despite a strong recovery in bonuses.”

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said, “With hours worked and overall employment still below pre-pandemic rates, the British jobs market has not yet recovered its full capacity. Given that it is inactivity, people not in jobs and not looking for one, that has risen, addressing the labour shortages companies face is a huge challenge.”

“Temporary work is helping firms to keep things moving, as it always does, highlighting the crucial role the staffing industry plays in the economy. But business and government must now work together on attracting more people, from a wide variety of backgrounds, into the labour force. Failing to address shortages will only constrain growth and feed inflation,” Carberry added.

James Reed, Chairman of Reed.co.uk, said, “The UK labour market remains buoyant, and this seems to be giving more confidence to the workforce. Jobseeker applications on Reed.co.uk rose by 50% in January month-on-month. We are at the start of a year of significant movement in the labour market and now is the great time to make a career change. I urge anyone thinking of switching jobs to take advantage of the record levels of vacancies now available right across the UK economy.”

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City & Guilds said, “Employers should consider how they might make their workplaces more accessible to people currently locked out of the labour market, such as women, people who have been in prison and those with disabilities. The government’s recent moves to allow prisoners to take apprenticeships are a great example of the sorts of interventions that could be used to unlock jobs for people who need them and provide employers with much needed workers.”

Paul Modley, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at AMS, said, “While it’s promising to see the latest ONS data showing that vacancy levels are continuing to rise at record rates, the UK is contending with ongoing skills shortages. And while the focus for employers in recent months has, quite rightly, been on this talent deficit and the need to upskill the workforce, businesses should also consider diverse recruitment practices, which can have a more immediate impact.”

Source: SIA

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