No self-congratulatory tweets from George Osborne this morning: The UK has seen its first quarter-on-quarter rise in unemployment for two years, figures released by the ONS show. The number of people in employment fell by 67,000 in the three months from May to March, and the number who are unemployed rose by 15,000. The unemployment rate rose from 5.5 to 5.6 per cent. So – is this the end of the recovery?
Well hang on. This is one fall, so it’s a bit soon to ridicule David Cameron’s target of 2m more jobs over this parliament. After all, nobody forecast that there would be 2m jobs created over the last parliament. Firms are still keen to hire – that much is clear from the number of unemployed people per vacancy (back to 2008 levels) and surveys which show that firms are trying to take on staff.
And there signs in today’s figures that the recovery has arrived – in pay, at least.
Real wages are growing at their fastest rate since 2007. And if GDP keeps growing faster than the number of hours worked, then maybe (at last) we’re starting to see a recovery in productivity too.