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UK – Number of temporary employees falls 4.7% over year

The number of temporary employees in the UK fell 4.7% year over the year to a total of 1.5 million in the three months ended October, according to data released Tuesday by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The number of temporary employees as a percentage of total employment was 5.5%., down from 5.9% in the same period a year ago.

The ONS figures relate to all temporary workers, not just temporary agency workers.

Compared to the three months ended in September, however, the number of temporary employees rose by 0.6%.

Of the 1.5 million temporary employees, 412,000 were temporary because they could not find a permanent job; 438,000 did not want a permanent job; 118,000 had a contract with a period of training; and 555,000 cited other reasons.

Overall, the UK added 79,000 jobs of all types nationwide in the three months ended in October to a record high of 32.5 million jobs. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1%.

Full-time workers rose by 110,000 year-over-year in the three months ended in October to a total of almost 24.0 million, but the number of part-time workers fell by 38,000 to 6.2 million.

The average weekly earnings for employees rose 3.3% year-over-year in the three months ended in October. However, the increase was 1.1% when adjusted for inflation (including bonuses.)

BBC reported the 3.3% increase was the biggest rise since November 2008. However, the CBI said earnings growth could be higher.

“While pay growth is improving at its fastest and most sustained rate in a decade, this is still slower than the UK has achieved in the past,” said Matthew Percival, CBI head of employment. “Building on this requires stronger and more sustained productivity growth, not the fits and starts we’ve seen. There has been progress since the launch of the industrial strategy a year ago, but the government needs to focus more on providing a compelling vision for the coming years and tangible outcomes in each region.”

Vacancies rose by 40,000 year-over-year to a total of 848,000 for the three months of September to November, according to the ONS report.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation said the challenge of recruiting is set to intensify, but the vacancy numbers don’t reflect the recent political turbulence.

“Businesses need clarity regarding Brexit and a pragmatic approach to future immigration policy to deal with labour shortages,” said Tom Hadley, director of policy at the REC. “Employers are looking for reassurances from government over our future relationship with Europe, but instead they are facing more uncertainty by the day.”

Source: Staffing Industry Analysis