· Oldham's youth claimant count now stands at the lowest on record and down 72% in the last year.
· Rapidly falling unemployment rate will continue to make recruitment difficult, particularly for high-demand skills.
Commenting on today's publication of labour market data from the Office for National Statistics, Christian Spence, Head of Business Intelligence at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said:
"Today's data from the Office for National Statistics continues to indicate a strong recovery in the performance of the labour market. With employment overall rising by 820,000 over the past year despite a population increase of 435,000, we continue to see the rate of unemployment falling to a near-six year low. Around half of that increase is accounted for by self-employment, though it is too early to tell if this is a genuine resurgence of an entrepreneurial spirit or caused by an inability of people to find contracted employment that suits their needs. This continued rise in self-employment is likely one of the biggest causes of average wage growth remaining weak.
"In Greater Manchester, the claimant count is now at its lowest since September 2008 and has seen the fastest monthly fall in over 17 years; the number of under-25s claiming Jobseeker's allowance has not been this low for nearly a decade and has nearly halved in the past twelve months with some areas having very strong success: Oldham's youth claimant count now stands at the lowest on record and down 72% in the last year.
"The side effect of such a strong level of employment growth is a continued weakening in average wages. With the increase in the past year in regular pay down to just 0.6%, the lowest on record since 2001, some people will continue to see a real-terms fall in their salaries meaning there remains a concern over the viability of continued strong consumer spending, though this will be offset by a growing population and changes to the taxation system such as the increased personal allowance. The headline figure of total pay growth over the year of -0.2% should not be seen as overly concerning, as it is primarily caused by large bonuses being taken in March last year rather than in April and this skew, caused by the change in the 50p rate of income tax to 45p, is a temporary statistical effect and we should see this reversed in the next data release.
"Overall, there is much good news in the latest figures and they show that the economy overall is recovering well. The rapidly falling unemployment rate will continue to cause greater pressures in the labour market overall making recruitment, particularly for high-demand skills, increasingly more difficult. Employers should ready themselves for these challenges over the coming months and ensure that they are able to take advantage of the positive economic climate to meet increasing demand. Government policy in supporting those who remain unemployed should resolutely focus on those people furthest from the labour market as there remains the risk that this relatively small number of people may be left behind."
In the three months to June 2014:
- UK unemployment fell 132,000 to 2.08 million (6.4%) compared to the previous three months, 437,000 compared to the previous year
- UK employment increased 167,000 to 30.6 million compared to the previous three months, 820,000 compared to the previous year
- UK total pay fell 0.2% compared to the previous year and rose 0.6% excluding bonuses
For the month of July 2014:
- GM Claimant Count fell 6,195 to 49,585 (2.8%) compared to the previous month, 29,010 compared to the previous year
- GM Youth Claimant Count fell 1,470 to 11,190 (22.6%) compared to the previous month, 9,550 compared to the previous year.