Stable job market is ‘mixed luck’ for UK workers
The pace of change in the UK job market has slowed to its lowest level in decades and even pandemic disruption, was a far cry from the volatility of the 1980s, according to research by the Resolution Foundation and the London School of Economics.
The research organization said its findings, published on Thursday, contrasted with popular perception that changes to working life were accelerating, with Robots are rapidly replacing humans and gig economy jobs replace factory work.
“These claims are very broad. The reality is that the pace of change is slowing, not accelerating,” said Nye Cominetti, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation.
The UK has seen a long-term shift of employment away from the manufacturing sector – whose workforce has fallen by more than 5 million between 1970 and 2021 – to professional services, health and education. , as well as lower-paid sectors such as hospitality and administration.
This change, the report says, has not been entirely effected through the brutal layoffs of employed workers: much of the decline in manufacturing employment is due to an organic process. more as older employees leave the workforce altogether, while younger people join other sectors, the report said.
But the pace of job growth and decline in various sectors has slowed considerably, reaching a century-low in the past decade. The researchers found that, even in 2021, with all the changes due to the pandemic, changes in labor market structure will account for only 7% of total employment, about a third of the peak. achieved in the late 1980s, the researchers found.
The Resolution Foundation said this relative stability was a “mixed luck for workers”, as it reduced the risk of people losing their jobs and being forced to downgrade to worse – but it also which means fewer opportunities to switch to a new job that offers better pay and prospects.
The percentage of workers who lost their jobs in each three-month period halved between 1991 and 2019. But the percentage of workers who chose to change jobs in each quarter also dropped sharply, from 3.2% in 2000 to 2.4% in 2019 – down from 25 percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of workers choosing to switch to a job in a new field fell by 35% during the same period.
This could be a downside, as over a 50-year period, wage growth for workers who switched jobs was on average 4 percentage points higher than for those who chose to stay.
However, the report warns that the pace of change in the labor market is likely to accelerate over the next decade, as the combination of Covid-19, Brexit and the transition to net zero reshape the economy. economy. The authors add that policymakers should try to ease the transition as much as possible by directing young people into careers in developing sectors, rather than “trying to push the envelope.” speeding the departure of older workers” in the 1980s fashion.
“Workers should make the most of this shift with job moves that raise wages,” said Cominetti, adding: “However, many workers will also lose, and they will need protection. better protected than in previous periods of great economic change.”