Daily Express

Job vacancies plunge for a record 17th quarter in a row

- By Geoff Ho

VACANCIES have fallen for a record 17 consecutiv­e quarters in what is the longest decline ever in our jobs market.

Health, social work and profession­al, scientific and technical occupation­s saw the largest falls.

From September to November estimated jobs available fell by 45,000 to 949,000.

Vacancy levels in 16 out of the economy’s 18 sectors declined, said the Office for National Statistics.

It added that although total vacancies were 229,000 lower than in the same period last year, they are still 148,000 above pre-pandemic levels.

ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: “This is now the longest period of decline on record, longer than in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 downturn. Neverthele­ss, the number of vacancies still remains well above its prepandemi­c level.”

The ONS also revealed that average weekly earnings for the three months to the end of October grew by 7.2%, down from 7.9%.

Mr Morgan said there were signs that pay growth is easing after consumer| price index inflation fell from 6.7% to 4.6%. But he added: “Pay continues to grow in real terms.”

Wage growth is a key inflationa­ry indicator for the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee. Because it is still far ahead of CPI inflation, economists expect the MPC to keep the base rate at 5.25%.

Between December 2021 and August 2023, the committee hiked rates 14 consecutiv­e times to tame inflation.

Martin Beck, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club think-tank, said: “The pay data is clearly now moving in the right direction from the perspectiv­e of the MPC.

“But given that annual pay growth is still running at more than twice the pace that would be consistent with the Bank of England’s 2% inflation target, the MPC is likely to stick with its ‘high-for-longer’ message for a little while yet.”

Barclays UK chief economist Jack Meaning predicted wage growth will fall as the jobs market contracts.

“Vacancies continue to drift lower,” he said. “We would expect this to lead to a further softening in wage growth.”

 ?? ?? PAY IS EASING: Darren Morgan
PAY IS EASING: Darren Morgan

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