By Marcus Leach
The surprise fall in UK unemployment figures seen today (Wednesday), whilst welcome good news, should be treated with a sense of caution according to Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG.
Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that unemployment fell unexpectedly by 45,000 between January and March, and is now 2.63 million, with the the jobless rate down 0.1% to 8.2%.
Brown said that the drop was excellent news, but also reminded the nation that we are still in a period of economic uncertainty and there is a way to go before the economy as a whole is where it should be.
“It’s great news that unemployment is continuing to fall and the hope must be that, with last month’s figures still fresh in the memory, we are beginning to see a trend moving in the right direction," Brown said.
"However, we should be cautious about blowing the dust off celebratory bunting just yet because, even for those who have found full-time employment, earning power for new starters remains well below pre-recession heights.
“Continued economic uncertainty and volatile markets means that getting a job comes at a cost. Whilst the economy benefits through the use of skilled labour and a reduction in the number of claimants, there is still less in the way of discretionary income, and until this changes we are likely to find ourselves stuck in a vicious circle.
“It also remains a concern to see that employment figures amongst the young are so high. So much attention is focused towards prospects for — and the stimuli to drive — the economy, but the reality is that long-term sustainable growth will only be achieved if the job market is tackled at both ends of the spectrum. If we fail to do so, the cost of supporting people as they look for work, coupled with the frustrations of a generation lost to the workforce, will mean that the UK’s economy will stagnate for a long time after today’s figures are forgotten.”