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Rise in employment despite the end of furlough schemes

UK employment rose in October despite the end of the government Covid-19 furlough scheme. Official data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) stated that the employment rate rose to 75.5% in the three months prior to October; this is thought to have been driven by a rise in part-time work (which dropped dramatically during the height of the pandemic, due to restrictions on the hospitality sector).

The ONS did state that more people may drop from payrolls yet, due to redundancies at the end of furlough and that this data would only be measurable once workers had served their notice periods; however they predicted the number of redundancies to be relatively small.

The number of employees on company payrolls increased by 257,000 in November from a month earlier, this is the biggest monthly rise in payroll employment records since 2014. Employment was also shown to increase in the 16-24 age bracket, a group which were hit particularly hard during the pandemic.

Head of economic statistics at the ONS, Darren Morgan, commented:

"With still no sign of the end of the furlough scheme hitting the number of jobs, the total of employees on payroll continued to grow strongly in November…Separately, survey findings show much of the recent growth in employment has been among part-timers, who were particularly hard hit at the start of the pandemic.“

Job vacancies have reached a record high at more than 1.2m in the three months to November, with 13 of the 18 industry sectors showing record levels. However, single-month estimates for November do predict a potential drop, so hiring may be starting to slow. Rob Clarry, an economist at PwC UK, said there were "tentative signs" that demand for labour could be reaching its peak.

There have been concerns that the emergence of the new Omicron variant may affect the hospitality sector and part-time work again, however chairman of Reed Employment, James Reed believes that there is no cause for concern:

"There's been plenty of talk from doomsayers that the Omicron variant will plunge us back into economic despair, but the outlook appears much more optimistic now compared with the first Covid wave we faced in March 2020. It's currently the best time in 50 years to look for a new job."

Regardless of new Covid-19 variants and the potential risk they may pose, the job market may still remain active and mobile as businesses choose to either remain working on a remote basis, or require their staff to return to offices. A recent survey by Ipsos and Ring Central found that one third of millennials would quit their job if they were forced to return to the office full-time.

Speaking to i-News, PR Account Executive Liam Pitts from Warwick told them that he quit his job in the summer due to the pandemic making him rethink his priorities. Pitts wanted to move closer to friends and family, working remotely so that he could support his mother who has health problems. Pitts now works remotely full-time for an agency based in London, with only very occasional travel to the office.

The results of the RingCentral survey indicated that 32% of people aged 21-24 plan to leave their place of employment, with 27% of those planning to do so within the next six months. “The Great Resignation” driven by workers searching for more flexible roles may sustain the buoyant jobs market, even if employment rates overall begin to slow.

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