Jobless figures: Unemployment falls but skills shortage remains

15th June 2011

However, several reports say this isn't necessarily good news, as there is more to the data than meets the eye.

The unemployment rate was 7.7%, down from 8% three months earlier, says the report. Yet analysts warned that there were signs of weakness in the data. The more timely claimant count measure of unemployment showing a much worse than expected rise of 19,600 in May to 1.49 million.

Alan Clarke, of Scotia Capital, said in The Guardian that the claimant count was an early sign that the labour market could deteriorate. "With GDP growth unlikely to stray very far above zero over the next 6 months, we should brace for further increases in unemployment."

anaffaloon comments on the Guardian report: "The definitions used in these figures need to be explored – for example what is the number of people for whom JSA has ended. If they no longer claim they disappear. In other words – how many non-registered unemployed are there?"

Also, how can one measure of unemployment go up while the other go down? Louisa Peacock asks this question in a Daily Telegraph report, and explains that if you read between the lines, you can attempt to explain both.

She concludes: "If you were to take out the distortion, from part-time workers and students in the ILO measure, as well as the change in benefits in the claimant count, what you are left with is a "flat" employment market. One that is holding up given the severity of the economic crisis, but one that still remains fragile."

Damian Reece adds in the Daily Telegraph: "Survey data earlier this week from Manpower, which is used as a key economic statistic by the Bank of England, showed that employers intend to create more jobs in the next quarter, with employment intentions particularly strong among smaller companies. So there's hope.

"But as the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) reveals today, despite relatively high levels of unemployment, companies are struggling to fill vacancies. We've got jobs being created, but they're the wrong sort of jobs, at least to solve the unemployment problem."

Three in four employers are struggling to fill vacant jobs due to a lack of skills in the labour market, despite high unemployment, adds another report in the Daily Telegraph.

Specialist and technical skills have become harder to find over the past year, with sought-after staff staying put in their current roles for job security, the annual survey of 626 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Hays recruitment firm showed.

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