Survey: UK employment outlook highest in 20 years

A store worker walks with equipment, amid the spread of Covid-19 in Oxford Street in London June 14, 2020. — Reuters pic
A store worker walks with equipment, amid the spread of Covid-19 in Oxford Street in London June 14, 2020. — Reuters pic

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LONDON, June 8 — The jobs outlook in the UK is accelerating at its fastest pace for 20 years as the hospitality sector struggles to find enough staff, recruitment firm ManpowerGroup said today.

“The employment outlook has seen the sharpest quarter-on-quarter increase since 2002,” noted Chris Gray, director, ManpowerGroup UK, after the company compared the current second quarter with the outlook for July-September.

The recruiter said the third-quarter outlook stood at plus 8.0 per cent, a 13-point increase from April-June.

That would be the second-strongest growth in Europe after Ireland, it added, noting that 1,764 UK employers had been surveyed.

Ireland showed a 15 percentage-point increase.

ManpowerGroup said “the boom in hiring means the UK now faces an acute talent shortage that could hinder its post-Covid recovery”.

Gray said the hospitality sector has “never experienced anything like this sudden snapback in hiring” and that restaurants and bars were also experiencing a skills shortage following Britain’s departure from the European Union.

“The skills shortage has also had an impact on pay. In the logistics sector, we’re seeing wages for drivers increase by as much as 20 per cent,” he added.

“The shortage is being felt for several reasons, (including because) many drivers have not returned as a result of Brexit.”

The need to pay higher wages comes as concerns mount that strong inflation could lead to increases to interest rates, in turn hitting economic recovery.

Retail recovery

British retail sales have meanwhile recovered strongly after the government lifted most of the country’s lockdown restrictions, data showed Tuesday.

Sales increased 10 per cent in May compared with the same month in 2019, the British Retail Consortium said, noting that ignoring last year’s pandemic-fuelled slump provided a more meaningful comparison.

“Pent-up demand for the instore shopping experience, as well as the first signs of summer weather, helped retail to the strongest sales growth of the pandemic,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.

Elsewhere, UK government data for May showed that more than one-fifth of pub and bar owners believed their establishment would survive the next three months, the first time that figure has been above 20 per cent since November.

Pubs and restaurants in England, which were forced to close indoor service just before Christmas, have been allowed to serve customers indoors again since last month. — AFP

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