According to the ONS, in April–June the unemployment rate registered 4.7%, down 0.2 percentage points from Q1. Experimental data for July showed that employment rose by 182,000 from June. Moreover, job vacancies were above pre-pandemic levels in July, and exceeded one million for the first time.
The unemployment rate is still forecast to increase somewhat later this year as government labor market support is wound down, although the extension of the furlough scheme until end-September should delay the rise in unemployment and also limit the extent of the rise.
On the reading, George Buckley, economist at Nomura, commented:
“This was another strong labour market report […]. But there are caveats: labour input measured by hours worked and to a lesser extent employment remains below where it was before the virus hit, annual pay growth is being heavily distorted upwards and payrolls were unchanged relative to pre-pandemic levels following downward revisions. Spare capacity remains in the labour market, but it’s being eroded quickly and mismatch risks adding to wage pressures.”
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists expect the unemployment rate to average 5.1% in 2021, which is down 0.1 percentage points from last month’s forecast, and 5.0% in 2022.