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Unemployment fall could reignite 'war for talent'

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The jobs market is heading towards another “war for talent” an employment expert has warned, after Government statistics showed the unemployment rate had fallen again.

Office of National Statistics (ONS) results showed the number of unemployed people fell by 167,000 to reach 2.32 million in September to November 2013.

The unemployment rate now stands at 7.1% - just 0.1% off the point at which the Bank of England has said it will consider raising interest rates.

Reed managing director Tom Lovell said the result was to be expected after a buoyant final quarter last year, but suggested the market was “shifting in favour of the candidate more quickly than many expected”.

“Our latest research shows there is an imbalance in terms of the confidence of individuals in their jobs and the increasing number of jobs available, and what employers are doing in terms of their staff retention,” he said.

“Salaries are still not increasing and we’ve seen benefits reduce year-on-year in terms of training, bonuses and entertainment. That suggests the organisations that can respond to that imbalance quickly and effectively will win in what is becoming more or a war for talent.”

However, job website Adzuna’s co-founder Andrew Hunter was less optimistic about the results.

“Despite the significant rise in the number of Britons in full time employment, many areas of the country are still struggling,” he said.

“The North East remains particularly challenging for jobseekers and the market isn't getting any easier for new graduates. Wages remain an issue too - while sectors such as IT and engineering have seen significant wage growth in the last 12 months, other sectors continue to stagnate, with little evidence that employers across Britain are willing to up wages in 2014.”

The ONS results also reported that total pay and regular pay both rose by 0.9% compared with September to November 2012.