• In the three months to February 2016 employment rose by 20,000, but unemployment also rose by 21,000
  • Annual growth in average earnings fell to 1.8% including bonuses, and stayed unchanged at 2.2% excluding bonuses

Commenting on the UK labour market figures published today by the ONS, Dr Adam Marshall, Acting Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Businesses are facing a growing skills shortage that poses a genuine threat to future productivity and growth. Unemployment is low by historic standards and our own survey work confirms that the percentage of firms reporting recruitment difficulties is close to an historic high, with firms facing a real struggle to find staff with the right skills.

“We need to encourage investment in human capital and staff training, as well as ensuring that school leavers are equipped with the skills that firms will need to compete successfully in an increasingly global marketplace.”

David Kern, BCC Chief Economist, added:

“Although the employment rate is at a joint record high, the latest figures overall are slightly disappointing.

“The rise in employment was much lower than in previous months, and for the first time in a considerable period we have seen a small increase in unemployment. The claimant count also rose in March for the first time since August 2015.

“While we must not give undue weight to one month’s figures, our own economic survey confirms that the pace of economic activity in the UK is slowing, and the recovery remains fragile.”