Commenting on the labour market figures for September 2018, published today by the ONS, Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“The continued drop in unemployment and strong employment levels are further evidence that the UK jobs market remains a bright spot, with firms continuing to hire despite significant economic uncertainty.
“However, the robust headline data masks several areas of concern. While there was a welcome increase in earnings growth, the gap between pay and price growth remains insufficient to convert into an appreciable pick-up in consumer spending. Sustaining meaningful real wage growth is likely to remain challenging amid subdued productivity and the escalating burden of upfront costs on businesses.
“The number of job vacancies in the UK remains at an alarmingly high level, further evidence of persistent skills shortages. While the number of people in work stands close to historic highs, firms continue to report that attempting to recruit staff with the right skills is an increasingly uphill struggle, which is stifling their ability to grow and boost productivity.
“It is vital that more is done to support those businesses looking to recruit and train staff, including delivering an open and flexible immigration system to help firms attract and retain the people they need to compete on the global stage.”