Following a period of employment growth and low unemployment, since the start of the pandemic the employment rate generally decreased, and the unemployment rate increased.
However, over the last year, both have shown signs of recovery. The latest Labour Force estimates for June to August 2021 that the employment rate increased by 0.5 percentage points on the quarter, to 75.3%. and the unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points, to 4.5%.
The economic inactivity rate is down 0.2 percentage points on the previous quarter, to 21.1%. The number of job vacancies in July to September 2021 was a record high of 1,102,000, an increase of 318,000 from its pre-pandemic (January to March 2020) level.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief execut of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said:
‘These latest employment statistics show that it’s currently a job seeker’s market with low unemployment and rising wages. Without action from the Government, this will put additional pressure on sectors like the early years where public funded places make up a lot of nurseries’ incomes.
‘The early years sector continues to face really tough recruitment and retention challenges – 90% of providers told us in June that they found it difficult or very difficult to recruit the level 3 qualified practitioners they need. This staffing crisis can only be exacerbated by this growth in employment and salaries where competition from areas like retail and leisure will increase.
‘The government must factor this into its Comprehensive Spending Review decisions regarding its childcare offer. Higher wages must be reflected in the hourly funding rate that providers receive to deliver funded childcare places. Failure to do so will result in yet more qualified practitioners leaving the sector which will mean upheaval for children in settings. Our members told us this summer that their staffing bills have increased by an average of 8.6% this year but funding rates are not keeping pace.
‘Children benefit from having high quality early education and continuity of care. At the same time, providers tell us they want to be able to properly recognise and reward their teams who do such amazing work with our youngest children. It’s time for the government to stop underfunding and truly invest in our children’s futures and those who work to build them.’