Today’s labour market figures again present a largely positive picture, with unemployment falling once more, employment rising sharply, and economic inactivity falling. But there is plenty more for the government to do in encouraging employment growth.
The one obvious weakness this time is the slight rise in youth unemployment, indicating once again that we need to look very carefully at the effects of the minimum wage on young people. The government might also sensibly consider reducing the burden of national insurance on employers and employees at the bottom end of the pay distribution, the point of entry for many young workers. It should not relax its efforts to encourage young people to take up job placements or part-time work.
The latter, commonly denigrated, is often a stepping-stone to full-time employment for those who want it – and remember that 69% of male and 87% of female part-time workers prefer part-time employment because of family responsibilities, studies or approaching retirement.
More generally, little has been done so far to relax employment regulation which continues to hinder job creation, especially amongst small firms. Some clear movement on this is long overdue.
An end to procrastination on airport capacity, housebuilding and energy generation would also encourage private sector investment and enable firms in the appropriate sectors to begin to recruit and train more skilled workers.