The latest UK jobs numbers show that although employment is broadly stable, unemployment has increased for the first time since mid-2015, up by 21,000 on the previous period. Wage growth has slowed – with earnings, including bonuses, up by 1.8%, a slower increase then the 2.1% in the previous period.
The disappointing results mirror the finding of the latest FSB Small Business Index which revealed small business confidence is at its lowest level since 2013.
Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said:
“The unemployment rate remains at a historically low level, but for the first time in over a year we are beginning to see the number of people out of work creep back up. The slowdown in wage growth should also be seen as a warning sign that businesses are looking to contain costs amid a challenging policy environment.
Our latest research shows small businesses are less confident than in previous quarters. They are dealing with a raft of new cost challenges, including the National Living Wage and pensions auto-enrolment deadlines. To meet these challenges employers are looking for ways to keep costs down and this is translating into slower jobs and wage growth.
Ministers should take note of these early warning signs and make sure they take further action to ease the burden on businesses and support firms looking to grow and create jobs.”