The quarterly Labour Market Outlook is one of the most authoritative employment indicators in the UK and provides forward-looking labour market data and analysis on employers’ recruitment, redundancy and pay intentions.

Labour Market Outlook: Autumn 2021

Employment confidence remains high as the net employment balance surged to +38, up from +32 last quarter. However, recruitment difficulties are increasing at the same time – almost half (47%) of employers are reporting hard-to-fill vacancies, rising from 39% in the last report. The challenge is particularly tough when filling low-skilled vacancies, as the median number of applicants for these roles has dropped from 20 to 16.

In response, organisations are taking positive action to attract the best candidates, including raising pay, upskilling and hiring more apprentices. One in five employers are also improving the quality of work they offer.

Meanwhile, fears that the end of the furlough scheme would result in large-scale job losses have been allayed with a modest 10% of employers expecting to make redundancies, down from 13% last quarter. Pay in the private sector also looks positive, as median basic pay expectations rise from 2.2% to 2.5%.

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Summer 2020 labour demand

Employment confidence continues to soar

The net employment balance – which measures the difference between employers expecting to increase staff levels in the next three months and those expecting to decrease staff levels – has risen yet again. At +38, it has exceeded last quarter’s peak to reach its highest level since tracking began.

Summer 2020 labour demand

Employers move to address hiring challenges

Encouragingly, employers are responding to recruitment challenges through positive action such as raising wages (47%), upskilling staff (44%), hiring more apprentices (27%) and improving job quality (20%).

Summer 2020 labour demand

Hard-to-fill vacancies becoming more prevalent

Recruitment difficulties have increased. The proportion of employers with hard-to-fill vacancies jumped from 39% to 47% this quarter. Meanwhile, the median number of applicants for low-skilled vacancies has dropped from 20 to 16.

Summer 2020 labour demand

Post-furlough redundancies well below pre-pandemic

The percentage of employers looking to make redundancies has fallen to 10%, alleviating fears that the closure of the furlough scheme would result in huge redundancies. Before the pandemic, this figure stood at 16%.

Summer 2020 labour demand

Slow but steady pay increase expected in private sector

Continuing the trend from previous reports, pay settlement expectations in the private sector have risen from 2.2% to 2.5%.

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