The pound has risen to its highest level against the US dollar in almost three months. With the dollar weakening, Sterling rose to its highest level since 24th February, supported by jobs data that showed a drop in the UK unemployment rate, to 4.8%, and increase in employment. The stronger than expected jobs report and the weaker dollar help boost the pound.

UK Employment Rises

Employment data from the UK showed a rise in employment with 84,000 gaining jobs in April following the reopening of the economy and the loosening of lockdown measures. The labour market is characterised by high-skilled workers furloughed or made redundant pandemic or low-skilled workers unable to gain new employment. Employers began hiring again in March, which helped to reduce unemployment for a third consecutive month. The number of workers seeking employment fell to 1.6 million in the three months to March, compared with 1.7 million in the three months to February, the Office for National Statistics said. The quarterly rate was down to 4.8% from 4.9% in February.

The number of employees on company payrolls continued to rise but remained 772,000 below pre-pandemic levels. The number of job vacancies also continued to rise into April, with most industries showing signs of growth.

Jobless rate to Rise in Autumn

However, ING expect the jobless rate to rise at around 6% in the autumn, as the furlough scheme comes to an end September. James Smith from ING stated: “We can already see signs of a rapid turnaround in the hospitality sector over recent weeks, where online job adverts have returned quickly to pre-virus levels since the reopening road-map was announced.

While this is a ‘flow’ measure and clearly isn’t the same as saying employment has returned to where it was before the pandemic, it does suggest some of the past employment losses we’ve seen over recent months could be quickly reversed over coming months.”

Thomas Pugh of Capital Economics also said that the unemployment rate may rise to around 6.0% by the start of 2022 but should fall eventually: “The unemployment rate may still rise over the rest of this year. But this will probably be due to people re-joining the labour market rather than more people losing their jobs. Of course, this is all dependent on the path of the pandemic, and whether the UK is able to exit the crisis - or if new variants force new restrictions to be imposed.”

Employment Data is welcome news

The jobs data was welcomed by the Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP who said that the report shows how resilient the jobs market has been. He said: “A continued fall in unemployment, a further rise in vacancies, and growth in the employment rate is welcome news as we continue on our roadmap to recovery. While there is more to do to make sure we support jobseekers over the coming months, these figures highlight the resilience of our jobs market and ability for employers to adapt – and through our Plan for Jobs we’re continuing to create new opportunities for people right across the country.”

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