Headline grabbing figures showing that unemployment is at its lowest point since 1974 only tell half a story. It's what is happening with employment that is of greater interest.
Since reaching a high in the mid-1980s, unemployment has been gradually falling. It has fallen more rapidly in the past 5 to 6 years though. Tellingly, the reason is not because there are more jobs, but that there are more people self-employed.
The last round of figures, published today by the Office of National Statistics, show that in the past 3 months, full-time employment fell by 55,000, but delivered a net growth of 99,000.
There are some interesting lessons for employers to take from this news. People of all ages are expecting to be able to work in different ways. Portfolio careers extend beyond the aspiration of retirement age non-executive directorships and disenfranchised millennials are pursuing their own opportunities. This has the potential to leave a drain on the talent pool available to recruiters at both ends of the employee pipeline.
Whether through ageing or attracting new talent, effectively managing your workforce and planning for the future are fast becoming the most important concerns for HR directors and business owners.
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Prof Geraint Johnes, at Lancaster University Management School, said the number of full-time employees fell in the quarter, which was offset by an increase in full-time self-employed workers and that the number of employees working part time also rose. "Whether these shifts indicate a longer term increase in precarity will need to be monitored carefully over the coming months. The labour market seems now to be exhibiting signs of nervousness that, given present uncertainties, should not be surprising," Prof Johnes said. Mr Wishart noted that employment only rose by 99,000 during the period, driven by self-employment, while full-time employment fell by 55,000.