There were some green shoots on the jobs front in the recession-mired UK in August as employment rose to the highest level in over four years.
The number of Britons claiming unemployment benefit unexpectedly fell by 15,000, the largest amount since June 2010.
But the question is – can it last?
The government’s Office for National Statistics said the London Olympics may have been a factor in creating jobs in August and analysts pointed out most of the rise in the number of people with jobs comes from self-employed and part-time workers rather than full-time employment.
The opinion of economists was mixed on whether the latest numbers indicated that the UK economy may be slowly moving out of recession.
“With eurozone break-up fears fading and the US set to unveil further stimulus, the hope is that we will start to see more optimism in the corporate sector on economic prospects, which can lead to a further strengthening of the UK’s jobs market,” ING economist James Knightley said.
Others sounded a note of caution. “Delving below the surface reveals a less impressive picture,” Capital Economics economist Samuel Tombs said.
“Most of the rise in employment was driven by growing self- and part-time, rather than full-time employment,” he added.
The number of people without a job on the wider ILO measure ticked down by 7,000 in the three months through to July to 2.592 million compared to the February-April period.
However, the number was higher than the 2.56 million unemployed reported for the April through June period. The jobless rate stood at 8.1 percent, compared with forecasts for a reading of 8.0 percent.