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13th February 2024

Labour market figures show economic inactivity

The ONS has released the latest labour market data.

Paul Butterworth, CEO at Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:

“As the number of vacancies and the unemployment rate fall again, it appears that the labour market is softening.

“However, businesses in Wales are still reporting difficulties finding skilled staff. 47% of Welsh businesses attempted to recruit in Q4 of 2023 according to our Quarterly Economic Survey, with two thirds of these businesses experiencing difficulties recruiting suitable staff.

“Another concern is the economic inactivity rate; more must be done to remove barriers for people who do want to return to work. This can include offering flexible workplaces, access to childcare, access to health support and skills development.

“We particularly welcome the pledges made by Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles in their leadership manifestos regarding fair work practices and reskilling opportunities to strengthen the Welsh workforce and boost economic activity. We hope to see similar measures at a national level in the upcoming Spring Statement as a skilled, engaged and supported workforce will help grow our economy.”

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:  

“Fewer vacancies show the labour market is softening but firms are still reporting difficulties finding skilled staff and the large number of inactive workers is concerning.

“To grow our economy we need more skilled, engaged and motivated people to contribute to the workforce in every part of the UK.

“Government must do more to remove barriers for people who want to work, including access to childcare, public transport, health support and training.

“By offering more flexible workplaces, training and upskilling, employers can make their jobs more accessible to a broader talent pool and help prevent people from leaving the workforce unnecessarily.

“The BCC’s own research indicates the labour market remains tight for many. Unless we get more people back into the workplace then the risk of higher inflation and interest rates will persist for longer.”

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