TOP 10 News of Worldwide Labour Market of the Week

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  1. Statement on Labour Market Developments in 2022

The labour market improved significantly in 2022 compared to 2021.Total employment grew by an unprecedented 227,8001, reaching 2.9% above its pre-pandemic level. Resident employment continued to grow, particularly in outward-oriented sectors such as Financial Services, Information & Communications and Professional Services. Resident unemployment and long-term unemployment rates in December 2022 remained low. The number of retrenchments in 4Q 2022 (2,990) doubled from 3Q 2022 (1,300), driven by business restructuring. Total retrenchments in 2022 (6,440) remained low compared to pre-pandemic years, despite increasing in the last two quarters of 2022. The percentage of retrenched residents who found employment increased to 73.1% in 4Q 2022, the highest since 2Q 2015.

Resident employment continued its steady growth, increasing by 26,300 in 2022. The increase was mostly in outward-oriented sectors such as Financial Services and Information & Communications. By December 2022, the resident employment level has surpassed 2019’s level by 4.8%.

Non-resident employment contributed to the bulk of the increase in total employment (201,600), although it has yet to reach its pre-pandemic level (99.2% compared to 2019). This increase was primarily due to the hiring of Work Permit Holders (WP+) in sectors such as Construction and Manufacturing3 as employers backfilled positions following the significant relaxation of border controls in April 2022.

Despite increasing in the last two quarters of 2022, the total number of retrenchments for 2022 (6,440) was lower than pre-pandemic levels6.The top reason for retrenchment was business reorganisation/restructuring. The percentage of retrenched residents who found employment (six months post-retrenchment) increased to 73.1% in 4Q 2022, the highest since 2Q 2015 (73.6%).

In February 2023, MTI maintained the GDP growth forecast range for 2023 at 0.5% to 2.5%, which is below the 3.6% recorded last year. Uncertainties in the global economy persist, including the impact of tighter financial conditions across many advanced economies on global growth, as well as the risk of further escalations in the war in Ukraine and geopolitical tensions among major global powers. Domestically, aviation and tourism-related sectors, such as Air Transport and Accommodation, are expected to continue to benefit from the recovery in air travel and inbound tourism, which will be boosted by the relaxation of China’s border restrictions. On the other hand, the growth outlook for outward-oriented sectors like Manufacturing remains weak given the broader slowdown in the global economy.

Global economic headwinds and slower growth may weigh on labour demand going forward, although hiring sentiments in December 2022 remain positive. Employment growth is likely to ease from 2022’s increase and be uneven across sectors.

Source: Ministry of Manpower

2. Data points: B.C.’s labour market holds steady as trade starts the year off strong

With the latest gain – which was largely in full-time work – employment continued to trend higher and was ahead of a year ago (by 1.3 per cent) and up 4.2 per cent from pre-pandemic February 2020.

The unemployment rate also crept up to 5.1 per cent, exceeding five per cent for the first time since January 2022, but still at a level comparable to the pre-pandemic era.

This points to strength in the labour market. Moreover, growth in average hourly wages accelerated to 6.6 per cent year over year from 4.6 per cent in January. Part of this reflected a soft early 2022 during the Omicron wave. But even so, monthly wages picked up. 

In the Vancouver census metropolitan area, employment grew 0.6 per cent month to month in February, and the unemployment rate increased to 5.1 per cent from 4.7 per cent. 

Imports were more balanced in terms across categories. Half saw an increase in import value, while half saw a decrease. The largest increase was industrial machinery, which saw 60.2-per-cent higher value at $1.5 billion. This is in large part thanks to the construction of a new liquefied gas terminal in B.C., where the occasional delivery of high-value equipment is received and causes large variations in value. Energy imports fell from $603 million in December 2022 to $396 million January 2023, representing a 34.3-per-cent decline. 

Source: BIV

3. US jobless claims inch down as labour market remains tight

Jobless claims in the US for the week ended March 18 fell by 1,000 to 191,000 from the previous week.

The labour market continues to defy Federal Reserve attempts to cool hiring, with US applications for unemployment benefits down again last week and remaining at historically low levels.

Jobless claims in the US for the week ended March 18 fell by 1,000 to 191,000 from the previous week, the Labour Department said on Thursday.

The four-week moving average of claims, which flattens out some of week-to-week volatility, fell by 250 to 196,250, remaining below the 200,000 threshold for the ninth straight week.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve extended its year-long fight against high inflation by raising its key interest rate by a quarter-point, despite concerns that higher borrowing rates could worsen the turmoil that has gripped the banking system.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell stressed that the central bank remains focused on fighting high inflation, which could require additional rate hikes.

Yet he also signalled that the Fed might not need to impose a lengthy string of increases if more banks were to reduce their lending to conserve cash. This could slow the economy, hiring and inflation, Powell said.

Last month, the government reported that employers added a substantial 311,000 jobs in February, fewer than January’s huge gain but enough to keep pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates aggressively to fight inflation. The unemployment rate rose to 3.6 per cent, from a 53-year low of 3.4 per cent.

In its latest quarterly projections, the Fed predicts that the unemployment rate will rise from its current 3.6 per cent to 4.5 per cent by year’s end, a sizable increase historically associated with recessions.

Though the US labour market remains strong, layoffs have been mounting in the technology sector, where many companies hired aggressively during the pandemic. IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, Twitter and DoorDash have all announced layoffs in recent months.

Amazon said this week that it would cut another 9,000 positions, adding to the 18,000 employees the tech giant said it would lay off in January.

Last week, Facebook parent Meta said it was slashing another 10,000 jobs in addition to the 11,000 culled in November.

About 1.69 million people were receiving jobless aid the week that ended March 11, an increase of 14,000 from the week before. That number is close to pre-pandemic levels.

Source: The HINDU Business Line

4. The Danube Region Monitor: Exploring Education & Labour Market Trends

The report found that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in lower employment rates of young people in the Danube Region, and may have exacerbated learning losses, early school leaving and inequalities. The pandemic, however, also led to significant public resources being spent on education and labour market policies and was a boost for digital skills in the Danube Region. The need for strengthening basic competences and addressing gender, migration and socio-economic disparities calls for further investments in education systems and in active labour market policy.

A dedicated chapter of the report also gives first insights into the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including severe damages to educational institutions a severe crisis of the Ukrainian labour market, and the need for the integration of Ukrainian refugees in education systems and labour markets in receiving countries. 

To visualise the data behind the report, an online database was launched. It allows for tailored data search and visualisations in maps and graphs.

The report and online database were prepared by the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw). It was developed in the framework of the Priority Area “People & Skills” of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, with co-funding from the European Union and support from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour and Economy and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. Both tools aim at providing easily accessible and comparable information to support evidence-based decision-making in the Danube Region.

Source: European Comission

5. More foreign workers will be let in to fill labour market gaps

The UK government is quietly allowing more foreign workers into the country to address acute labour shortages, starting with the construction industry. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt did not mention the policy shift in his Budget speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Instead he highlighted the opportunity for post-Brexit Britain to “move from a model based on unlimited low-skill migration”. But the government’s “red book”, the document containing all of the Budget measures, revealed the Treasury’s plans to relax the curbs on foreign labour in certain industries.  

It confirmed that bricklayers, roofers, carpenters, plasterers and construction workers will from this summer be added to the Shortage Occupation List. 

The list allows employers to bring in key staff from outside the UK on a lower salary threshold of £20,480, compared with the current “skilled worker” salary threshold of £25,600, or 80 per cent of the going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher. 

Hunt used his speech to highlight the government’s drive to encourage British residents back into the workforce through measures including more generous childcare. 

Yet documents from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility, the fiscal watchdog, suggested that higher net migration will add more capacity to the labour market in the coming years than all of the Chancellor’s measures to boost the number of domestic workers. 

“In terms of the labour market, we have revised up employment since November . . . due to higher net migration adding 160,000 and the labour supply measures in this Budget adding 110,000,” the OBR said. 

Ministers believe their high-profile crackdown on migration by illegal routes gives them the political space to allow more overseas workers to fill gaps in the labour market. Current jobs on the shortage list include vets, civil engineers, graphic designers and care workers, who were added last year and prompted overseas hires by care homes to jump by 50,000 in the past 12 months.

Source: Financial Times

6. Labour market offers glimmers of hope for the Chancellor and the Bank

Recent months of data had pointed to a turning point in demand for workers, with vacancies falling and redundancies creeping up. But with unemployment unchanged again (still low at 3.7 per cent) and employment rising (slowly), it now looks like demand has stabilised. Vacancies are coming down as they get filled, but only in the private sector, and remain high at 1.1 million – about one-third above pre-pandemic levels.

This combination of steady labour demand and increasing labour supply, along with a very partial abatement of cost of living pressures, has stabilised wage inflation. Headline pay growth has stopped rising – growth in regular pay was 6.5 per cent in the three months to January, down slightly on the 6.7 per cent figure in the three months to December. This is clearer when looking at higher frequency pay measures: in the private sector, annualised pay growth on a three month measure has been falling since last Summer – from 8.7 per cent in July to 5.7 per cent in January. With MPC deciding its next move on interest rates a week on Thursday, we’ll be taking a closer look at pay trends early next week.

However hard workers have been trying to keep pace with inflation, they have failed to do so: real pay is still falling at close to record rates of 2.5 per cent per year. This is the key driver of the living standards disaster we are all living through today.

Source: Resolution Foundation

7. Legal labour market still tight with more demand for contract workers, finds recruiter survey

Hiring legal talent is proving difficult for many law firms and legal departments, and most intend to hire more contract workers in the first half of this year, found Robert Half Talent Solutions’ latest Demand for Skilled Talent Report.

Among the employers who participated in Robert Half’s survey, 36 percent were hiring for new roles, 44 percent were hiring for vacated roles, and 84 percent were finding it challenging to fill positions. Altogether, there has been a 47 percent increase in job postings for lawyers between this quarter and last.

The labour market for lawyers, legal secretaries, and paralegals remains stingy, as the report largely mirrors Robert Half’s findings from last fall.

“What we’re seeing that hasn’t changed is that law firms and legal departments are hiring,” says Michelle Dunnill, regional director, in Toronto, at Robert Half. “And they are having challenges that are continuing.”

Last October, Robert Half’s salary guide showed a similarly scarce supply of lawyers and other legal professionals. At the time, family lawyers were most in demand because the pandemic’s strain on households had led to more divorce, child custody, and other family law issues. There was also significant demand in civil litigation, commercial law, compliance administration, trademark and compliance IP law, contract management, and real estate law.

Now, the practice areas with the most opportunities are labour and employment, where 53 percent of employers are hiring; privacy, data security, and information law, where 50 percent are hiring; and then ethics/corporate governance, where 49 percent are hiring.

There is growing demand from employers for contract workers for lawyer, legal support staff, legal research and analysis positions, as well as corporate in-house counsel and staff to assist with compliance administration and data privacy. According to Robert Half’s stats, 67 percent of managers plan to hire more contract professionals in the first half of 2023.

“Each law firm and/or legal department is more open to considering short term and/or long-term contract workers,” says Dunnill.

With the challenge employers face finding talent and the turnover indicated by the fact that 44 percent of them are hiring for vacated roles, she says her clients need to be “a bit more creative” in what they offer prospective talent.

“It really is a flexible work environment,” Dunnill. Employers must be flexible in what the workday looks like. “Perhaps they’ll have that one day or two days a week where they may be working in the office for part of the day, and then at home office for the rest of the day.”

Source: Canadian Lawyer

8. Average Treasury worker 34 despite over-50s back to work push

Just under 10% of Treasury staff are over 50, it revealed. This age group makes up 32% of the UK workforce, the Office for National Statistics said.

Charities warn over-50s do want to work but often face ageism from recruiters.

The Treasury said its recruitment processes were “fair, open and based on merit”.

The BBC used a Freedom of Information request asking to see the ages of all applicants to roles at the Treasury over the past five years.

The results revealed that far fewer over-50s apply for jobs at the Treasury than younger workers.

Those over-50s that were invited for interviews, were less likely to be offered a job than younger workers.

On average over the past five years, 17% of over-50s who got interviews at the Treasury, were successful at getting job offers. The figure is 20% for people in their thirties, and 22% for under-30s.

Taken as a whole, the average age of Treasury staff is 33.6, as of December 2022.

The Treasury also had the lowest median age out of the entire civil service in 2022, an Institute for Government analysis showed.

Jeremy Hunt – who became chancellor last October – has been calling for over-50s to return to employment, to help tackle staff shortages across the economy.

In a speech in January, he spoke directly to early retirees, saying: “Britain needs you.”

Last week, in the Budget, Mr Hunt said rather than labelling over-50s “older” workers they should instead be considered “experienced”.

But charities have warned that while many over-50s do want to return to work, they often face discrimination from recruiters.

“There is definitely a lot of ageism in the labour market,” said Chris Brooks, head of policy at Age UK.

“We hear regularly from people who say they feel overlooked unfairly in the recruitment process.”

The Treasury uses blind hiring, which means assessors do not see applicants’ ages. This can be “really helpful at the early stages,” Mr Brooks said, when sifting through CVs and applications.

“But you still need to train recruiters to ensure they’re minimising biases when they’re face-to-face with candidates in an interview,” he added.

Chris Walsh, chief executive of the Wise Age charity, which supports older workers seeking jobs, said the Treasury’s record of employing over-50s was “disappointing”.

He said many over-50s “desperately want to work”, and that there were “real benefits” from having an age-diverse workforce.

“Especially in the current tight labour market, it’s detrimental to employers not to hire diversely.”

A Treasury spokesperson said: “Our recruitment processes are fair, open and based on merit. We run a “blind” recruitment process, which means applicants’ personal details, including age, are not shown to assessors.

“We’re committed to ensuring our staff come from a range of backgrounds, skills and expertise.”

Source: BBC

9. Robust labour market and booming recruitment activity in Saudi Arabia

Hays Middle East, part of Hays plc, the global leader in workforce solutions and specialist recruitment, has released its latest Saudi Arabia Salary Guide. The guide provides comprehensive salary data for over 190 roles across 9 industries in the Kingdom, with the latest workforce trends based on expert insights and the analysis of a survey of almost 400 employers and professionals.

Commenting on the guide, Aaron Fletcher, Senior Manager at Hays Saudi Arabia, said: “A vibrant labour market and increasing salary growth, combined with a positive economic and employment outlook, make Saudi Arabia an attractive destination for job seekers. The main catalysts for growth, expansion, and transformation are the flagship giga-projects, which span sectors and regions across the Kingdom.”

The labour market in Saudi Arabia is robust and dynamic, with high levels of recruitment activity across various sectors. In 2022, 70% of employers reported that their organization’s headcount increased, most commonly by more than 10%. This is a significant increase from the 43% of employers who reported the same in 2021, highlighting the country’s buoyant labour market.

Recruitment activity in the Kingdom shows no signs of slowing, with 89% of employers planning to recruit permanent employees in 2023. Most employers are focusing their recruitment efforts in-country in Riyadh (69%), Jeddah (56%), and/or the Eastern Province (41%). With organizations competing for the best talent, opportunities abound for individuals with the most sought-after skills.

The Hays Saudi Arabia Salary Guide also indicates that 53% of employees received a salary increase in 2022. The most common rate of change increased from 5% or less to between 6% – 10%, reflecting salary growth in the country. A significant 79% of employers expect salaries within their organization to increase in 2023, further indicating the economy’s positive trajectory.

Optimism amongst employers in Saudi Arabia is high. Indeed, 70% feel positive about the wide economic climate and future employment opportunities for the coming years – though this is down on last year’s high of 79%. Despite this small decline, organizations in Saudi Arabia have confidence both in the macroeconomic climate and the labour market, evident from their ambitious plans to pursue growth and expansion.

With skills shortages and increased competition for local talent, employers must prioritize effective attraction and retention strategies to maintain a competitive edge.

Source: Economic Times | HR World The Middle East

10. China’s job market better than expected in Jan-Feb: minister

China’s job market was better than expected in January and February, and the country’s employment will continue to pick up this year, Wang Xiaoping, the human resources minister, said on Thursday.

The world’s second-biggest economy is warming up after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions late last year, with both manufacturing and services activities expanding sharply since the beginning of 2023. Companies are slowly adding jobs again, after shedding staff for months.

“With an improvement in economic operation, the employment will continue to pick up and remain overall stable,” Wang said during a news conference in Beijing.

However, more work needs to be done as people are expecting more job opportunities, more reasonable pay and more reliable social security, she noted.

“In 2023, the number of college graduates will reach 11.58 million, and the structural conflict between difficulty of recruitment and finding jobs remains outstanding,” Wang said, adding the government will step up support to help college graduates, migrant workers and unemployed people.

In December, the surveyed unemployment rate of young people between 16 and 24 years of age in urban areas of China ranged at 16.7 percent.

China needs to add 16.62 million people to the urban workforce this year, the highest number in recent years, vice human resources minister, Yu Jiadong, said at the same briefing.

Markets expect the annual meeting of parliament, which kicks off this weekend, will set economic targets including the goal of new urban jobs created and elect new top economic officials.

Source: Reuters

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