The Rise Of Employment in The UK

Despite the political and economic uncertainty played out for the past several years, the UK employment market is in its best shape for a generation. This is not the assertion of a Government Minister but is based on the facts (Office for National Statistics). Below we talk about the employment, wage pressures and the demands on recruitment for UK companies.


  • The level of UK employment has reached a record high of 32.7 M

  • Unemployment at 3.9% - its lowest level since the mid 1970s and significantly lower than the Eurozone average of 7.8% ( Czech Rep 1.9%, Germany 3.1%....Spain 13.9%, Greece 18%)

  • An increase of 172,000 people in work between December 2018 and February 2019. Mainly driven by women (142,000) and older people returning to work

  • People working full-time reached a record high of 24.15M (15.05M men and 9.09M women)

  • Overall UK employment rate is 76.1% ( Men 80.5%, Women 71.8% ) 

    employment high new


Economists have surmised that this healthy level of employment stems from companies hiring workers to meet demand rather than investing in productivity boosting technology .
However, where is this demand being generated from? Is it the fact that inflation has eased over the past 12 months, allowing households to rebuild their purchasing power, as pay rises faster than the cost of living. Or is it simply that we are experiencing positive knock on effects for the wider economy that comes with a push to full employment? Whatever the factors, the undeniable fact is that wages are going up.


Employment growth is pushing up average wage growth - new 

  • Employment growth between 2012 and 2019 has averaged 1.5%

  • Labour force growth averaged 0.8% and population growth 0.7% between 2012 and 2019

  • Real average earnings (i.e. after Consumer Price index has been taken into account) increased by 1.6% to reach £494 per week in 3 months to February 2019

  • 65% of employers highlighted that they had increased staff pay over the last year. Less so in small companies (56%), but more the case in medium (75%) and large organisations (78%) - (REC Jobs Outlook for April 2019

The Economic think tanks point out that with faster employment growth over population or labour force growth, leads to a full state of employment. Therefore, where extra demand for labour is not met by existing supply, it will in turn stimulate higher wage growth. 


According to a recent survey (REC Jobs Outlook for April 2019 - please contact us if you would like a copy)

  • More employers planned to increase permanent headcount, than reduce reduce it in the short-term. A net of 16%, which is 3% up on 2018

  • Recruiters hired 220,000 people between November 2018 and January 2019

  • Short to mid-term balance of sentiment for hiring temporary agency workers rose by 10%

  • Alsmost half (48%) of UK employers expressed concern in the first quarter of 2019 over the sufficient availability of permannent candidates

  • 80% of UK employers continue to indicate that they had either no surplus workforce capacity or such a small amount that if demand increased they would have to increase headcount

Over the last 12 months we have seen a significant rise in demand for both permanent and temporary staff. Along with our regular client base we have seen a return for our services from companies who did not require outsourced recruitment for over a decade. We are also working with firms who previously have never employed the services of a recruitment agency. The recent engagement of a recruitment agency by the  Bank of England for the first time in its history, is testament to this.
Recruitment agencies can work for and with companies. Reputable agencies like ourselves will not rest on their laurels and will bear in mind the main criteria when employers select agencies for help filling a position. The graph below represents a recent survey by the REC, indicating the importance of certain criteria when employers select agencies for help when trying to fill a temporary position.

 REC agency choice - new

It's evident that over the past 12 months, the push to full employment and the consequential wage increases have gathered pace. This has seen a need for trusted recruiters who provide industry expertise and a high level of service. We are proud to say that we have a long established loyal client and candidate database. Nurtured by a high number of referrals and repeat business.

 For further reading on this please see:

UK pay grows at fastest rate since financial crisis - ONS

UK employment at highest since 1971

Labour market economic commentary: April 2019

Female unemployment rate lowest since 1971

JMF Salary Guide 2019




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Jennings Morton Friel Associates Ltd
Duncan House, Burnhill Road
Beckenham, Kent BR3 3LA
+44 (0)20 8663 6699

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