The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its latest labour market figures this morning. While they show the employment rate at a joint record high of 76.5%, it is important to note that these statistics cover the period November 2019 to January 2020. The feedback from recruitment professionals is that the coronavirus epidemic is already having a significant impact on the jobs market.
Tom Hadley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), said:
“With the coronavirus situation changing every day, it’s essential for businesses and government to be looking forward, rather than backwards at these obsolete figures. Four in five recruiters expect the outbreak to have an adverse impact on hiring in the short term, and we are likely to see the greatest impact in sectors like hospitality, retail and the creative industries. However, the health, social care and logistics sectors have been looking for even more staff in the past few weeks. Recruiters and temporary agency workers have a vital role to play if employers are to keep up with demand.
“We welcomed the emergency support for workers and businesses that was announced in last week’s Budget – but we need bigger, bolder action to protect good companies from cashflow problems that weren’t their fault. This means covering sick pay, deferring VAT and PAYE payments, and suspending the upcoming tax changes until normality resumes. This will help to keep people in their jobs and allow firms to start hiring again.
“In return, businesses must also take a proactive approach to both protecting their staff and preparing for a future where we will all have to be more flexible about the ways we work.”
Notes to editors:
1. The latest ONS labour market statistics can be found here.
2. On Friday 13 March the REC conducted a poll of member recruitment agencies, asking “Looking ahead, how will the coronavirus crisis impact on hiring activities in the short term?”
i. It will have a major adverse impact – 35%
ii. Some adverse impact but manageable – 55%
iii. No real impact – 3%
iv. Will increase demand for staff – 8%
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