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Latest data shows that unemployment is low and vacancies have hit a record high, however, regular pay, though growing at 3.8%, could not keep up with inflation.

Labour market economist for the CIPD, Jonathan Boys, commented on these recent ONS figures. He said, “In the round these figures are encouraging. The labour market continues to recover and show furlough ending with a whimper, rather than a bang. However, the landscape of low unemployment and high vacancies poses challenges for employers’ recruitment and retention efforts.

“Unemployment decreased to 4.1% which, while not lower than pre-pandemic, is very low by historical standards. Competition for candidates therefore remains fierce as there are fewer people looking for each available job.”

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Boys added, “Pay is struggling to keep up with inflation and this will become more acute as the year moves on, particularly when the energy price cap is raised in April.

“Although not all employers have the scope to raise pay, there are plenty of things they can do to attract and retain a wide talent pool such as a focus on job quality and flexibility. Employers will have to ensure that they are taking steps to widen their recruitment strategies and provide flexible jobs to ensure they can attract and retain older workers, people with caring responsibilities and those with long-term health conditions that are willing and able to work.”

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