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James Smith, developed markets economist at ING, points out that UK’s  headline measure of employment fell by 58,000 in the three months to September, albeit this was better than expected.

Key Quotes

“Dig a little deeper, however, and the picture is a little more blurry. The recent fall in employment has been predominantly driven by 18-24 year-olds, and once that group is stripped out, jobs growth is still positive. A large chunk of the fall has also been led by part-time employees. It’s not clear whether these two factors are linked, but both can be reasonably volatile parts of the jobs data.”

“Either way, the outlook for the jobs market looks challenging. The level of vacancies has been consistently falling over recent months, while the PMIs are pointing to reduced hiring appetite – and in some cases, redundancies. With the investment outlook likely to remain clouded as we move into 2020, regardless of the election outcome, we expect the challenges facing the jobs market to persist.”

“That said, it’s still early days and the jury is still out on whether this merely reflects a jobs market that is no longer tightening, or whether it is something more serious. Either way, this raises some question marks over wage growth – a key pillar in the Bank of England’s hawkish rationale over recent years. At 3.6%, pay growth has fallen back but still looks pretty respectable.”

“Partly for that reason, we think it’s still probably too early to be pencilling in Bank of England rate cuts just yet. However it’s clear that the jobs market holds the key, and a further material deterioration could easily see policymakers inch closer to easing policy in 2020.”