February’s @ONS labour market statistics release. A thread. 👇
There is some encouraging news: the number of employees on the payroll has stopped falling and grown in both December and January. This might suggest we are seeing the labour market begin to stabilise (though only two months’ data). (1/n)
However, we need to put this in context, as over the last year we have still seen a weak labour market, with the number of employees on the payroll down 700k compared to pre-pandemic. In addition, unemployment rose sharply through 2020. (2/n)
And we are far from out of the woods as there are still millions of people who are furloughed. Last week’s BICS survey suggested 20% of the workforce, around 6.4m were on furlough at the start of February. (3/n)
The makes interpreting the figures difficult and means if there is a stabilisation in the labour market it might only be temporary: we just don’t know at the moment. (4/n)
So who has lost their jobs in the pandemic so far? Importantly there appears to be a strong age dimension, with younger people seeing biggest falls in employment than older workers. (5/n)
On some measures more than half of the fall in employees has been among those aged 25 or under. (6/n)
In terms of gender, it is still men who are seeing bigger falls in employment than women - men’s employment rate down 2.4pp on the year compared to 0.6pp for women. (7/n)
(Though this only covers the formal labour market and not unpaid work. There is some evidence that women are picking up more of the burden of homeschooling compared to men.) (8/n)

And more of those men appear to be flowing into 'economic inactivity' compared to women. The economically inactive are either not looking or available for work, so are less connected to the labour market. (9/n)
Vacancies is used as a measure of labour demand, and we can see a pick up in vacancies following a big fall earlier in the pandemic. Though vacancies remain well below their pre-pandemic levels. (10/n)
Finally, earnings. On the face of it, earnings are growing strongly in the most recent months. But we need to be careful here. Our measure of earnings – Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) – is just what it says, the average (mean) of all people being paid. (11/n)
This means that if lower paid people lose their jobs, the average wage measured by AWE will rise. These compositional effects are quite marked at the moment as sectors shedding jobs such as hospitality tend to be lower paid. (12/n)
So the average earnings figures are flattering the position somewhat. We that around 2.8 percentage points of the growth is down to compositional effects. More detail in the release. (13/n)
All today’s data is available here. (ENDS)



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More from @jathers_ONS

15 Jan
Today’s GDP release, and in particular how the economy has adapted, a thread.👇
After 6 months of growth, the economy started shrinking again in November as tighter restrictions were in place. (Though there were variations across Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.) (1/n)
The economy shrank by 2.6% in November. In normal times this would be a significant downturn, but it is much smaller than the falls seen with the first restrictions in the spring: April GDP fell by around 20%. In that sense it is good news. But why the smaller fall? (2/n)
Read 13 tweets
17 Nov 20
A thread on comparing different economies: similarities and differences. 👇
Last week saw the publication of @ONS data on GDP. As an important indicator of economic performance, GDP growth is often compared between countries. (1/n)
I have seen a few comments about whether the composition of activity in an economy (e.g. services vs manufacturing) has an effect on relative economic performance during the pandemic. That is difficult to answer, and I am not going to try to deal with that, but… (2/n)
Read 14 tweets
11 Aug 20
[THREAD] The UK labour market has been profoundly affected by the pandemic. The effects, however, have been complex and different from how the financial crisis played out. Six key points from today’s @ONS data:
Firstly, people are losing jobs and employment is falling. But the falls are relatively modest compared to the huge falls in GDP we are seeing (GDP fell by just under 20% in the three months to May YoY; payrolls fell just over 2% July YoY). (1/n)
The number of people on the payroll fell by just over 100,000 in July and is down 700,000 since March. (2/n)
Read 17 tweets
24 Jul 20
Retail sales data for June, from the @ONS, a thread 👇. (All the hard work of @StatsRhian and team.)
Retail sales had a good June, growing around 14% compared to May, and we are almost back to the level we saw before the pandemic. (1/n)
But we are certainly not back to how things were. There are some huge changes within overall retails sales discussed below, all of which have happened in a few months. (2/n)
Read 15 tweets
16 Jul 20
Labour market statistics: a thread pulling together the various data sources.👇
The overall picture has been a worsening labour market, but the rate of weakening slowed into June. For example, HMRC tax data showed the fall in people on the payroll moderated. (1/n)
(Of course all of this does not reflect recently reported job losses, which might show up in future labour market statistics.) (2/n)
Read 16 tweets
12 Jun 20
Thread on today’s @ONS economic data, and what this means for the economy 👇
As was expected, we saw a huge fall in economic activity in April, down 20% compared to March. Taking March and April together, the fall was 25%: in two months the economy shrank by a quarter. (1/n)
At risk of stating the obvious, the size and suddenness of the fall in economic activity is completely unprecedented. The biggest fall before the coronavirus was just over 2%. (2/n)
Read 17 tweets

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