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Business groups cautiously optimistic on employment and wages


Employment and business experts reacted largely positively to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) unemployment figures yesterday.

The year-on-year fall in unemployment of 468,000 to June of this year was universally welcomed. And although the 0.6% growth in average pay is still modest, some experts predict that the continued increase in employment will start to push this up.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director for employment and skills Neil Carberry saw the figures as a sign that “our growing economy is feeding through to new jobs”.

“More young people are finding their feet in our labour market,” he said. “With unemployment dropping, and wage settlements in larger firms starting to pick up, we expect to see average earnings growth begin to rise in time."

The prolonged fall in unemployment provides the job market with a “constant stream of good news”, according to totaljobs.com website director Ian Burke. But he urged the government to ensure the benefits are seen by jobseekers in all sectors and age groups. He also cautioned the potential impact of the Scottish referendum.

“Whatever the outcome, the referendum on Scottish independence will have significant consequences for UK employment as a whole,” he said. "It may well disrupt the steady fall in unemployment that we have seen over the past year.”

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed (IPSE) chief executive Chris Bryce highlighted figures that showed a jump in self-employment of 225,000 between the second and third quarters of 2014.

He claimed that the “growing army” of self-employed workers means the government should consider appointing a minister for self-employment.

“Such a minister would be responsible for everything affecting Britain's smallest businesses, from flexible workspaces that provide independent professionals with a place to work and collaborate, to promoting this way of working to young people as a viable career option,” he said.