PBE Reacts: ONS labour market statistics, March 2022 In response to today’s release of ONS labour market statistics Madison Kerr, Economist at Pro Bono Economics, said: “The cost of living crisis is now firmly being felt in the labour market, with today’s jobs statistics highlighting the extent to which the pay squeeze is biting across the workforce. Even before the crisis in Ukraine and well before inflation’s peak, wages have failed to keep up with the rate of inflation. A 1% decrease in the real value of a typical paycheck coupled with an inflation spike focused on staples such as food and fuel means real day-to-day hardship for the poorest in society. It is evidently essential that the Chancellor uses the Spring Statement to address this an increase to Universal Credit to at least keep up with inflation. “And inflation is not the only issue affecting the labour market. While employment rose yet again in the latest quarter, economic inactivity was once more on the rise. The causes for this increase in the number of people stepping away from the jobs market even as firms face staff shortages remain varied, but reversing the trend is a key challenge for policymakers concerned with securing full recovery in the labour market. “These are also worrying times for the charities supporting those most adversely affected by cost of living pressures, as demand for services like debt advice and provision of basic goods continues to grow. At the same time, finding the money to ensure their workers’ wages don’t suffer is an enormous challenge. Charities will need to spend an extra £2billion in 2024 to ensure wages don’t fall in real terms because of inflation. This is money many do not have after two years of the pandemic stifling fundraising across the sector.” Contact PBE's press office.