Record numbers of Britons looking for work fall as ‘economic slowdown’ amid rising cost of living

Record numbers of people are entering and leaving the UK job market as the cost of living continues to rise, according to the latest official data.

The UK’s economically inactive population increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as many older workers chose to retire early.

However, in recent months there has been a wave of people moving in and out of work as rising costs of living put pressure on household budgets.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), “The estimated flow between July-September 2022 and October-December 2022 will be driven by people moving from the economic shutdown to employment. It shows that there was record net flow from

According to the ONS, this is mainly due to young people, students and the elderly aged 50 to 64, where physical inactivity has decreased the most.

Darren Morgan, ONS Director of Economic Statistics, said: This means that while employment has picked up again, the unemployment rate has also risen slightly. “

The latest data show the UK unemployment rate was 3.7% in the three months to December, the same rate recorded in the three months to November. However, the unemployment rate for the three months to September was 3.6%, slightly higher than the previous calendar quarter.

The data showed that normal wage growth was 6.7% over the three months, the strongest rate of growth seen outside of the pandemic. However, wages continued to be overtaken by rising prices.

Taking into account consumer price index (CPI) inflation, regular salaries fell by 3.6% over the three months compared to the previous year.

strike jamming

The UK recorded the highest number of workdays lost to strikes in more than a decade last December, according to the ONS.

About 843,000 working days were lost in labor disputes that month. This represented the biggest impact of a month of strike action since November 2011, when 997,000 working days were hit.

The surge in days lost came after a series of industrial action involving workers from the post office, the rail sector and the National Health Service (NHS).

Darren Morgan of ONS said: Transport and telecommunications remained the hardest-hit sectors, but the health sector also made a big contribution this month. “

“A sign of resilience”

Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said of the employment data: The best thing we can do to get people paying more is to stick with our plan to halve inflation this year. “

But opposition parties have accused the ruling Conservative Party of mismanaging the economy.

Labor Shadow Prime Minister Rachel Reeves said: Governments need to stop just sitting down this controlled path of decline. “

Liberal Democrat Treasury Department spokeswoman Sarah Olney said: “This Conservative government has been plaguing families with soaring mortgages, rising energy bills and unfair tax increases. This puts pressure on the salaries of hardworking people.

“We worry that a long list of Conservative prime ministers will push the economy to the brink of recession and millions will lose their jobs. We need to cancel the monthly energy rate increase.”

labor shortage

Despite the slowdown in economic activity, business groups say the UK economy continues to suffer from labor shortages.

Matthew Percival, CBI Director for People and Skills, Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: fill them up. The upcoming budget is the perfect time for the government to make real progress on the labor shortages the economy is suffering from. “

Jane Gratton, Head of Human Resources Policy at the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) said: growth.

“There is still a huge number of vacancies, currently 1.134 million, which is holding companies back. It means that growth plans are out of reach.”

She has urged the government to reform the job shortage list so that urgent vacancies can be filled from outside the UK when businesses cannot hire domestically.

PA Media contributed to this report.