New figures have shown Britain’s employment boom is rolling on.
In the second quarter of 2018, the number of people in work rose by 42,000 compared to the first quarter to reach 32.39 million.
This was 313,000 higher than during the second quarter of last year.
Pricing themselves into jobs
But there is a price to be paid for the UK’s jobs miracle, as the wage figures show. Compared with a year earlier, average weekly earnings in “real”, i.e. inflation-adjusted terms, rose by just 0.4% excluding bonuses and 0.1% including bonuses.
Because these numbers measure growth rather than absolute cash terms, it is possible for the figure with bonuses to be lower than the figure that excludes them.
What both figures suggest is that people are pricing themselves into jobs by declining to demand the sort of pay rises that would have been unexceptional ten or twenty years ago.
Unemployment statistics UK, defined as people not in work but both seeking and work available, dropped by 65,000 to 1.36 million in the second quarter compared with the first quarter, and by 124,000 compared with the April-June quarter in 2017.
The numbers working unpaid in a family business rose from 110,000 in the first quarter to 114,000, while the total of those on Government training or employment schemes dropped from 57,000 to 50,000.
For those who criticise the labour market’s reliance on “zero-hours contracts”, in which workers have few rights, there was good news in the latest figures – compared with a year earlier, there were 780,000 people on such contracts, down 104,000 on the second quarter of last year.
The number of self-employed people working full time rose from 3.29 million in the first quarter to 3.33 million in the second quarter, while the number of self-employed people working part time fell from 1.456 million to 1.437 million.
In total, 27.454 million people were classed as employees while 4.768 million were classed as self-employed. The respective figures for the first quarter were 27.43 million and 4.746 million.
A historic view
Taking a longer view, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) noted that between June 1978, when comparable records began, the proportion of jobs accounted for by the manufacturing, mining and quarrying sectors fell from 26.4% to 7.9%, while the proportion accounted for by the services sector rose from 63.2% to 83.4%.
Britain’s buoyant jobs scene has been the brightest spot in the UK economy since the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent Great Recession. In contrast to the downturns of the early Eighties and early Nineties, unemployment did not shoot up and those who did lose their jobs either found a new one or went to work for themselves.