In response to today’s release of ONS labour market statistics, Helen Barnard, Research and Policy Director at Pro Bono Economics, said:

"Another bumper quarter for jobs saw vacancies grow to well over 1.2 million between October and December, while the number of payrolled employees is up 184,000 on the previous month to 29.5m. But despite continued growth in some labour market measures, there are increasing signs that the recovery is losing pace.

“The rising number of people out of the labour market because of ill health is undermining the UK's recovery, especially in places most in need of levelling up. Economic inactivity is high and has risen to 21.3%, a change of 0.2 percentage points since the last quarter.

"In England, the North East, a levelling up priority area, has the highest rate with 25.1%, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (24.4%) and the North West (22.7%). Rates are rising fastest in these areas - up by 1.2 percentage points since November 2020 in the North East and by 1.9 percentage points in Yorkshire and the Humber and the East Midlands.

“This is being driven by higher rates of long-term illness, meaning there will be no quick fix - sustained and tailored support will be needed to turn this trend around. Charities disproportionately support people further from the labour market into jobs and will be vital in delivering this support."

Contact PBE's press office here.