Latest government figures on the labour market

Today’s ONS figures cover the period June to August 2020. Importantly, this month’s data includes revisions to estimates since March 2020, following a reweighting exercise by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The revisions have resulted in a 300k lower estimate of employment than previously estimated. Redundancies have risen sharply again this month, doubling on the previous quarter to 230k. This is the highest level since summer 2009 and the fastest rate of growth on record.

Key insights from the data include:

  • In September 2020 there were still 673k fewer people on payroll compared with March.
  • There were an addition 20k more workers on payroll in September compared to August.
  • September had an increase of 144k job vacancies to 488k in total, but this figure is still 40% fewer than the same time last year.
  • Self-employment has decreased by 470k compared to pre-pandemic levels.
  • The number of temporary employees increased by 4.1% this quarter, to approx 1.45 million in total.

The increase in job vacancies this quarter has been driven particularly by smaller firms (i.e. those with 49 or fewer employees), the public sector, and recovery in administrative/ support, finance and construction roles.

The fall in self-employment means that this way of working is now at it’s lowest level since 2015. This is hardly surprising given the significant impact of coronavirus meaning that many self-employed people no longer had work.

In contrast the number of temporary employees has increased by 4.1% this quarter which is a positive sign meaning that businesses are starting to move forward with their plans and a hopeful early indicator that economic recovery is on the way.

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