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British economy in ‘relegation zone’ as job vacancies shrink and unemployment remains stagnant

UNIONS warnd today that Britain’s economy is in the “relegation zone” amid high unemployment and a decline in jobs.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) findings revealed that unemployment is showing little signs of improvement post-pandemic, with the number of those out of a job 225,000 higher than a year ago. 

Job vacancies are down 58,000 quarter-on-quarter at 957,000 — the lowest level in more than two years, the figures showed.

Wage growth has also edged back, with average regular earnings increasing by 7.7 per cent in the three months to September, down from an upwardly revised and record high of 7.9 per cent.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Our economy is in the relegation zone. 

“If pay packets had been growing at pre-crisis levels, workers would be on average nearly £15,000 better off.

“And across parts of the economy, real wages are still shrinking. 

“The Conservatives’ economic mismanagement is costing people their jobs and livelihoods. It's time for change.”

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the figures were “no real comfort for workers.”

She said: “Years of pay freezes and real-terms pay cuts have meant that workers in Britain are worse off.

“Politicians of all stripes need to make different choices.”

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Liz Kendall said: “These figures once again show the Tories' failure on the economy.

“Our employment rate still hasn’t got back to pre pandemic levels, unlike every other G7 country, and a record number of people remain locked out of work due to long-term sickness. 

“This is terrible for individuals and their families, especially during a cost-of-living crisis, and for taxpayers too as the benefits bill continues to soar.”

Figures in Scotland have shown the country’s economy has flatlined.

Scotland’s unemployment rate was at 3.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2023, a figure which has remained constant throughout the year.

New analysis from the STUC has revealed workers’ pay in Scotland is down by £1,223 within the last two years as a result of pay not keeping up with inflation.

The average worker in Scotland took home £533 a week in October, the STUC study found, which it said represents a fall of £13 a week since October 2021.

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said its findings were “absolutely staggering” and called the UK government’s economic strategy “economically incompetent.”

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