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July 2017 economic statistics: All the figures SMEs need to know

As was suggested by Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist of Indeed: “Britain’s employment picture is starting to look more anomaly than achievement." We unveil further details on the issue in our July 2017 economic statistics roundup.
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In “defying the odds” fashion, advertised vacancies have reached their highest level in two years. This is despite much talk about “companies feeling the pressure of Brexit negotiations,” our July 2017 economic statistics unveil.

The above findings come from Adzuna, with its co-founder Doug Monro explaining: “The rise in the number of vacancies highlights the resilience of the UK jobs market. And with more than a quarter of a million openings in London at present, there are plenty of opportunities for modern day Dick Whittingtons to see if the capital’s streets really are paved with gold.”

That the number of those in employment has grown by 324,000 from 2016 – representing the largest total since 1971 – is thus unsurprising. Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at Indeed, even deemed it “nothing short of remarkable”.

However, the UK may be on track for an economic slowdown – “and the UK’s seemingly boundless capacity to create new jobs can only defy economic gravity for so long”.

Mamertino divulged to Real Business for its July 2017 economic statistics feature that employment data has, in fact, begun to slip out of sync with the wider economy. It seems the number of unemployed people per job opening has actually declined to its lowest level in 15 years.

“This means employers frequently have to fight harder to recruit the people they need,” he said. “As echoed by the Taylor review, one of the chief drivers of that success has been the large number of workers opting to strike out on their own. Between 2008 and 2016, more people became self-employed in Britain than in any other EU15 country.

“While the disconnect between the rosy employment figures and the darkening economic picture is little cause for concern, the gulf between wage growth and price inflation cannot be ignored.”

Indeed, the July 2017 economic statistics found, Brits are feeling the pinch. IHS’ Markit Household Finance Index even claimed the nation’s willingness to spend big money was now on par to December 2013, with a fall in “bricks and mortar” spending partially to blame.

At the same time, there has been a steep rise in consumer prices, with wages shrinking by 0.7 per cent. Inflation sits at its highest level (2.9 per cent) in nearly four years. So the second half of 2017 looks set to be a bumpy ride.

This doesn’t mean another recession is in sight though, PwC economist John Hawksworth unveiled. There are still downside risks relating to Brexit, but there are also upside possibilities if negotiations go smoothly and the recent Eurozone economic recovery continues.

“We expect the UK to suffer a moderate slowdown, not a recession, but businesses should be monitoring this and making contingency plans.”

This makes it the perfect time to address workforce disengagement. In our July 2017 economic statistics we unveil how only 15 per cent of workers currently apply extra effort to their jobs. The figure comes from Gartner, with its CEB HR practice leader, Brian Kropp, explaining that “levels of discretionary effort have plummeted to the lowest point in six years.

“Our data indicates employees are unhappy with virtually every aspect of their current job – rewards, opportunities, employer, colleagues and work – and levels of satisfaction are at an all-time low. A growing number of workers are leaving their employers because of poor people management (37 per cent) and cite it as a major shortcoming in the organisation.

“With record numbers of people in work and strong job growth, this should be a wake-up call for UK organisations to fight hard to keep top talent, especially when economic factors are already making life more difficult for them.”

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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