First published on Wed, October 17, 2012.
New Government statistics suggest that employment levels have risen unexpectedly over the last quarter.
• The overall employment rate was 71.3%, a rise of 0.5% since the last quarter and nearly 1% higher than this time last year. This is also the highest figure recorded since February to April 2009.
• Employment in the public sector has fallen whereas private sector employment has risen.
• The unemployment rate was 7.9% of the economically active population, down 0.2% on the last quarter and down 0.3% on a year earlier.
• Despite rising employment, the average number of hours worked by each employee has fallen slightly. Output per worker (or productivity levels) fell by 1.1% per cent between the first and second quarters of 2012.
• The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds was 20.5% for June to August 2012, down 1.3% from March to May.
The resilience of the labour market has puzzled economists, who question why employment has risen during an economic recession. Possible explanations include an increase in self-employment and part-time work and the downward pressure on wages, which is helping companies to keep down labour costs, allowing them to retain staff.
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