Exploring Trends in the UK Labour Market

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Ryan Kaye

- November 16th, 2023

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of the UK job scene is no small feat, but the good news is the latest data paints a picture of resilience despite economic twists and turns.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has given us an in-depth snapshot into the intricate tapestry of employment, unemployment, and pay trends. So, whether you’re looking for a new opportunity or on the hunt for the right talent, get ready to unearth some valuable insights that can make a genuine difference.

Steady employment rates

As of the three months leading up to September 2023, the latest findings from the ONS reveal a flourishing employment scenario. Great news – the unemployment rate has stayed put at a stable 4.2%. Although there was a minor hiccup of 0.1 points in the employment rate to 75.7%, a staggering 33,000 more individuals joined the ranks of payrolled employees in October, bringing the total to a whopping 30.2 million.

Salaries surge despite challenges

Amid the obstacles, there’s been some unbelievable news for the hardworking folks here in the UK. Real wages have been climbing, with regular pay getting a nice 7.7% boost from July to September 2023, capturing a fairly rosy scenario. And when you add those bonuses, the general pay growth escalates to a hearty 7.9% – that just proves our job market is one tough cookie.

UK Labour Market

But, it’s critical to mention that the number of job openings took a dip for the 16th month in a row, dropping by 58,000 in the three months leading up to October. But don’t panic – there’s a bright side. There are still far more job vacancies on hand compared to the pre-pandemic days. So, rest assured, there are still a boatload of opportunities out there!

A closer look at labour market trends

Digging into the details, the ONS noted that job vacancies experienced a dip, landing at a total of 957,000 between August and October 2023. This decline touched base with 16 out of 18 industry sectors – this suggests a ripple effect across different parts of the economy.

Well, in terms of pay, here’s the good news. The annual growth in regular pay (minus bonuses) remained strong at 7.7%. In other words, it held its ground as one of the highest rates since records began back in 2001.

And here’s a silver lining – when we factor in inflation using the Consumer Prices Index for total pay, it saw a real-term annual growth of 1.4%. So, things are moving in the right direction.

Exploring the Labour Market Outlook Report

Diving into the Labour Market Outlook Report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), this report spills the beans on what hiring managers are thinking about in terms of employment, redundancies, and pay.


Here’s the gem from the report – the positive net employment balance sticks at +26. That’s just a fancy way of saying employers are feeling pretty positive. And there’s more encouraging news. Redundancy intentions have taken a nose-dive for the first time since Winter 2021/22. A mere 17% of hiring managers were pondering making job cuts in the last quarter of 2023.

Job openings and salary recognitions

Next, let’s look at the less easy part – those hard-to-fill job vacancies, particularly in the public sector. Here’s the real scoop – expected salary boosts in the public sector are consistent with the private sector at 5%. That’s a record-high for the public sector in our history!

Shifts in the Labour Market approach and employee shortages

Gazing into the future, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and other influential figures stress the need to build on labour market reforms and address staff shortages as we head towards the Autumn Statement.

UK Labour Market emerges as remarkably resilient

To recap, the UK labour market faces hurdles but demonstrates incredible resilience. Whether you’re job hunting or an employer, the secret is to craft a team that’s as flexible and diverse as your favourite playlist. And keep hold of your hats because the Autumn Statement is coming up, so expect more strategies and insights to keep the job market thriving and growing exponentially.