By Claire West

Gerwyn Davies, public policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) comments as follows on official labour market statistics, published earlier today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which update the UK Labour Force Survey (LFS) measures of employment, unemployment and economic inactivity to the quarterly period April-June 2010, the count of people unemployed and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) to July 2010, and growth in average weekly earnings to June 2010:

"This looks like yet another set of strong and encouraging figures on the surface. However, cracks now seem to be emerging; with a considerable growth in part-time work, lower pay settlements and a slower decline in the claimant count all features of a more uncertain jobs market. As the CIPD predicted earlier this year, the strong progress that we have seen in the first half of this year is set to stall thanks to a series of headwinds that are about to hit the jobs market.

"A larger crack will emerge when the real impact of the cuts on the public sector take effect in the autumn, with a question mark now hanging over the capacity of the private sector to fill it. The prospect of the public sector cutbacks is now being accompanied by more uncertainty in some parts of the private sector, as wariness sets in thanks to the wider impact of both the cuts and the VAT increase. With uncertainty creeping back into the jobs market, and with the Bank of England now lowering sharply its economic growth forecast, it is encouraging that the Bank of England have lowered their interest rate expectations.

“The figures may also herald a gender divide in terms of job prospects, with unemployment increasing for women. This should come as no surprise since women make up a disproportionately large number of the public sector workforce."