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Expert comment, ONS October Labour market statistics

Professor Terence Hogarth of the Warwick Institute for Employment Research unpacks the implications of today's ONS Labour Market statistics for our regional economy:

"Labour Market Prospects for the West Midlands – Time to begin thinking about the future

"Today’s ONS’s Labour Market Overview for October is not optimistic. Beyond the information which indicates that the labour market showed some signs of recovery over the last quarter, September revealed some worrying signs:

  • the rise in the number of redundancies;
  • the fall in the number of payrolled employees; and
  • increases in the claimant account.

"What does this mean for the West Midlands? Without doubt the region’s labour market is in for a bumpy few months. But there is also a need to think now about the region’s future and how 2021 might play out. Two questions are critical here.

  • What will happen to the region’s skills base?
  • What are the prospects for young people making the transition from school to work?

"Successive governments and employers have made substantial investments in the region’s skills base. Skills will be all important to the region’s recovery. From previous recessions it is known that once skills are lost to an industry they can be difficult to replace.

"Young people’s prospects are potentially at risk. If employers are laying-off skilled workers, they may be unlikely to take on new trainees or apprentices. This has implications for the region’s future skills pipeline.

"How the region deals with these issues will be all important in determining the speed of its economic recovery."

Key statistics for background

  • redundancies increased substantially (by 227,000 between June and August in the UK);
  • in September the number of payrolled employees fell (a decline of 629,000 people over 12 months in the UK);
  • the Claimant Count increased in September 2020 to 2.7 million - an increase of 120.3%, or 1.5 million since March 2020 (though not everyone was unemployed).

13 October 2020

  • Read Professor Hogarth's comment on the Job Support Scheme here.


Sheila Kiggins

Media Relations Manager

07876 218166