PAYE umbrella contractors may be intrigued to consider two recently published reports which offer apparently contradictory views of the UK’s jobs market. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has just released its latest figures for the UK’s employment rate in the three months to October 2010. Unemployment grew by 35,000 to reach 29.13 million, hitting its highest rate (up 0.1 per cent to 7.9 per cent) in six months. Much of the job losses (around 33,000) were sustained by the public sector as a result of the government’s deficit reduction measures. On a more positive note for contractors working through umbrella companies, the figures also showed a rise in part-time employment of 26,000 – a number which is likely to include self employed workers.
The British Chambers of Commerce issued a statement saying that the figures were “disappointing” although not a cause for despondency. Longer term trends still suggest a strong labour market this year although the economy still faces challenges in the months ahead, the BCC continued. This is in line with projections from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), which suggest that unemployment will fall in 2012 as private sector job creation begins to more than offset public sector losses.
The latest meeting of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Technology Group, however, offers a more upbeat picture for contractors working in the IT skills market. Recruiters in the sector have noticed a rise in recruiting activity and have a “more upbeat” outlook for 2011.