Tag: ONS

IT professionals saved from recession

an-queue-at-a-job-centre-in-1924-pic-getty-images-762512302Beancounters working for the recruiter Randstad Technologies claim that IT professionals have survived the economic crisis better than other sectors and now earn more on average than… er, the beancounters.

Randstad Technologies analysed Office of National Statistics and professional industry data on every occupation in the UK, taking into account the aggregate wage bill for full-time staff between 2002 and 2014 and divided by its shoe size.

The total wage bill for full-time employees in IT jobs rose 82 percent from £17.4 billion in 2002 to £31.6 billion in 2014, reaching five percent of the total wage bill for all UK full time employees.

More than 400,000 people have taken on IT jobs since 2002.

Ruth Jacobs, managing director of Randstad Technologies, said: “The increasing demand for Tech has been the umbrella which sheltered the sector from the storm of the recession. As technology has become a larger part of our lives, the industry has grown dramatically, with 400,000 new full time jobs in just 12 years. The growth in the sector has been so significant it’s now responsible for five per cent of the total UK wage bill. But this rapid expansion means there is tough competition for Tech talent as employers want to find the right people for the right jobs.

“The demand for people will advanced IT skills will only grow in the future, as Britain will need 2.2 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to match the sector’s potential. This means that if you are qualified for software developer jobs, data analyst jobs or network engineer jobs, it will be easier to find work, with almost no chance of being laid off long periods of time.”

Randstad said the average wage for tech professionals has fallen by 11 per cent, but despite this, they have still done better comparatively, with tech employees earning more on average than accountants.

Jacobs, added: “As technology has progressed, the costs associated with the industry have dropped exponentially in line with Moore’s law. This helps to explain why the average wage of Tech professionals has declined more than some other sectors. However, IT jobs still offer some of the highest average salaries in the UK, overtaking accountants.

“While the average salary figures have been boosted by the number of IT jobs in London, the growth of fin-tech jobs and IT security Jobs have helped the sector to do well compared to other industries.

UK GDP inches up

gosborneThe Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that UK gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 0.8 percent in the first calendar quarter of this year.

That compares to a rise of 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and year on year equates to a rise of 3.1 percent.

The ONS counts four main segments and there were rises in services (0.9%), production (0.8%) and construction (0.3%). However there was a fall of 0.7 percent in the agricultural sector.

The UK GDP is now 0.6 percent lower than its 2008 peak – that’s before all hell broke loose with the credit crunch.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said there are now foundations for a broad based recovery.  He attributes the recovery to the UK coalition’s economic strategy.

UK unemployment falls

parliamentData from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that between December last year and February this year, unemployment has fallen.

6.9 percent of the labour force are unemployed in the period – that compares to 7.9 percent for the same period last year.

There are now 30.39 million in jobs – that’s 691,000 up from the same period last year, the ONS said.

But there are 8.85 million people between the ages of 16 to 64 that, in the ONS’ jargon, are economically inactive. But that’s down by 104,000 people compared to the previous year.

Pay has also risen by 1.7 percent compared to the same period last time round.

Inflation fell in January

David CameronThe Office of National Statistics (ONS) said that inflation in the UK fell to 1.9 percent in January.

But if you measure inflation using the Retail Prices index, it rose to 2.8 percent in January from 2.7 percent in December 2012.

The ONS said that inflation fell because furniture, alcohol and tobacco prices along with recreational goods and services fell. Prime minister David Cameron (pictured) welcomed the news.

In other UK business news, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) called for an overhaul of business rates. The BRC said shops’ business rates should be based on energy use and the creation of jobs.

The BRC described the existing system as outdated and cimbersome.  The UK government plans to release a report later this year to discuss the matter.

UK plc shows signs of growth

ukflagAfter a dreadful dose of the recession clap, it appears the UK economy is showing signs of growth.

It’s growth, but not much growth, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

In the fourth quarter of 2013 the economy grew by 0.7 percent. GDP is growing at 1.9 percent and that is the best UK plc has seen since 2007.

Industrial production fell, and the construction industry fell, too, during the fourth quarter. The other vital signs are a fall in unemployment, while inflation is wobbling along at the Bank of England’s targeted rate of two percent.

High street sales rose in December

highstreetThe UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) said that sales in shops rose by 5.3 percent in December 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.

And, according to ONS, small shops did better than the megachains, rising by eight percent compared to 2.6 percent.

Growth in online sales now represents 12 percent of the pie and it’s thought that some of the growth was because shops frantically discounted in December.  That’s not necessarily a good thing, of course.

As we reported earlier this month, sales were mixed from the big boys – M&S and Debenhams didn’t do that brilliantly but John Lewis surged ahead.

UK August sales fall

Oxford Covered Market, courtesy of http://www.oxford-coveredmarket.co.uk/content/anna-james-photosThe Office of National Statistics (ONS) said that August 2013 showed a period of contraction compared to July 2013.

Figures it released showed that while there was strong growth of 1.1 percent in July, the retail sector fell by 0.9 percent in August. However, it pointed out, the level of goods bought on the high street remained, er, high.

The food sector fell by -2.7 percent for the month – a normalisation because food sales were boosted in July 2013 because of the clement, that is to say, hot weather.

Year on year, sales whether in the high street, online, in stalls or the covered market grew by 2.1 percent. The ONS attributes last year’s poor sales in Augusts by suggesting that the world+dog was watching the Olympics.

The ONS classifies the sector as food stores, non food stores, mail order and market stalls and petrol stations.

For every pound spent in August 2013, 42 percent (pence) was spent on food; 41 percent in non food stores; six percent in markets and the like; and 11 percent in petrol stations.

Footfall creeps up, vacancies down

clouds3The July heatwave is long gone, but its positive effects on the retail sector are still being felt. According to the British Retail Consortium, footfall was up 0.8 percent in July compared to a year ago. The footfall uptick was not the only good news, as vacancy rates went down.

BRC found that vacancy rates in town centres went down from 11.9 percent in April to 11.1 percent in July. Since lovely weather drove shoppers back to the high street, online took a hit. Online sales fell two percent compared to June, but year-on-year they were up nine percent.

In addition, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is now forecasting GDP growth of 1.2 percent in 2013, up from 1.0 percent in its May forecast. CBI revised its figures after a better than expected second quarter and signs of a pick-up in confidence across a broad range of sectors, including services, construction and manufacturing.

“The economy has started to gain momentum and confidence is picking up, but it’s still early days,” John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said. “We need to see a full-blown rebalancing of our economy, with stronger business investment and trade before we can call a sustainable recovery. We hope that will begin to emerge next year, as the Eurozone starts growing again.”

As the Eurozone emerges out of recession, we could be in for a period of relative stability, but the recovery remains painfully slow in most sectors.

UK GDP grows 0.6 percent

ukflagThe latest data from the Office for National Statistics estimates the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 0.6 percent sequentially in the second quarter, and have predictably been jumped on by both the Conservatives and Labour.

The biggest contribution to GDP was the services industry, growing 0.6 percent or 0.48 percentage points to the 0.6 percent increase. Productive industries also grew with a contribution of 0.08 percentage points, as manufacturing increased 0.4 percent after negative growth in the first quarter. However, all of these industries are well below their pre-crash levels.

The GDP growth, the ONS says, now puts the UK at 3.3 percent below the peak in Q1 2008, before the worldwide economic crash.

The growth was expected by the market and did not affect the London Stock Exchange, the BBC reports.

GDP was growing steadily between 2000 and early 2008 before the financial market crashed. Services continued to grow but production was largely flat, although construction was experiencing a boom at the beginning of the decade. The 2008 crash had an effect on all industries, particularly construction and production.

Economic growth did pick up late 2009 but at a far slower rate than prior to the crash. The crisis in the Eurozone swelled in 2010 creating further economic uncertainties and slowed growth again. According to ONS data, because construction and production has only managed to approach 2009 levels, GDP growth since then is attributable to services instead.

Although GDP growth has been welcomed, it does not necessarily translate into standards of living in real terms, and has its own set of criticisms as a measure of economic wellness.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls said “families on middle and low incomes are still not seeing any recovery in their living standards,” noting that wages have not risen with prices. Coalition chancellor George Osborne admitted “things are still tough for families”.

The creeping growth – nowhere near pre-2008 levels and after years of remaining flat – is terrifically vulnerable in a very uncertain global economy.

It’s not time to put the Tesco Value Cava on ice just yet: EU countries are increasingly volatile, austerity policies are being demanded all across the world, shocks to the markets could happen at any moment and in private industry, the prevailing attitude is one of caution.

Inflation rate approaches three percent

poundsThe Consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate grew to 2.9 percent in June, an increase on May’s 2.7 percent, the Office for National Statistics has announced – approaching the Bank of England’s cut-off point of three percent.

Slower rises in food prices and air fare managed to keep the lid on the inflation rate, which was expected because of increases in clothing and petrol prices from the same time last year.

Prices in clothing and footwear fell by 1.9 percent between May and June 2013 – much less than the 4.2 percent fall the same time lastyear, which was the largest on record. Transport prices rose 0.1 percent between May and June, compared with a fall of 0.5 percent for the same period last year.

Petrol prices rose by 1.0 pence per litre, compared with a 4.3 pence decline last year. Diesel was also up, but air fares fell 2.8 percent compared with a 7.4 percent rise in 2012.

The largest downward effects came from food and non-alcoholic beverages, with prices dropping 0.5 percent compared to a small fall of 0.1 percent last year. Recreation & culture saw prices drop 0.2 percent compared to 0.1 percent the previous year, with the main effect coming from package holidays.

The pound fell three quarters of a cent compared to the dollar at roughly $1.506, the BBC reports.

Berenberg Bank analyst Rob Wood told auntie that inflation is “likely to bobble around three percent for the next few months before heading down towards the two percent target next year, as weak wage growth feeds through to lower costs and inflation”.

But chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, David Kern, said there is uncertainty whether inflation will peak before falling later this year, as expected.

“If this happens it is still possible that the recovery will continue to slowly gather momentum throughout the year and into 2014,” he said, adding that unexpected developments like surges in energy prices could push inflation. This would mean “our growth prospects will face new risks”, he said.

The Bank of England’s target is to keep CPI around the two percent mark. If CPI pushes past three percent, governor Mark Carney must speak with chancellor George Osborne.

Web spending leads in retail sales

poundsRetail sales increased year on year this May, the Office for National Statistics has revealed.

In its monthly survey of 5,000 UK retailers, it was found that sales volumes increased 1.9 percent compared to May last year – with the quantities bought in retail marking the highest level since the series began.

Amounts spent grew 3.1 percent, also the highest level on record.

It was the non-store retail sector that brought in the largest quantities. Compared with May 2012, goods bought here increased by almost 20 percent, at 19.1 percent. The non-food sector enjoyed some growth, at 2.2 percent.

In terms of amounts spent, the food sector saw an increase of 3.4 percent.

There was downwards pressure from petrol station, with the amount spent here declining 1.8 percent compared to the same time last year. But the amount bought showed minimal growth at 0.1 percent, over the same period. The ONS points out that this indicates price deflation.

Compared to April 2013, both quantities bought and amount spent grew by 2.1 percent. Here, the food sector also drove the most upward pressure on amount spent and quantities bought – at 3.4 percent and 3.5 percent respectively.

Every store type enjoyed growth from the previous month, signifying a slight upwards trend compared to a bleak overall picture in April.

The overall proportion of non-seasonally adjusted online sales stayed healthy at 9.7 percent. Average weekly spending for online retail reached £582 million – an increase of 10 percent compared to the last year.

Unemployment rose during November 2012 to January

Jobcentre-plus-During the months of November 2012 to January 2013, unemployment rose, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has said.

In its latest repor,t the organisation said the figures shot up by 7,000 to 2.52 million, compared to the previous three months.

The North East of England fared the worst with a top unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, while the East and South East of England saw the lowest figures with 6.6 percent.

Last month the organisation found that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 1,500 to 1.54 million.

The number of unemployed women increased by 5000, while youths also suffered. Figures stood at 993000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in the latest quarter, up by 48000 from the three months to October.

The ONS also revealed that average earnings for those in employment increased by 1.2 percent in the year to January.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the latest figures showed that the government had “failed every single one of these [unemployed] people and it has failed our country.”

He said instead of the bedroom tax or cutting child benefit, the government could dramatically reduce the welfare bill by getting people back to work.

“The Government should use today’s Budget to take bold action to fuel growth. Taxing banking bonuses could provide vital funds to stop the jobs carnage in the public sector and provide the jobs and growth our economy so desperately needs,” he added.

Geeks more in demand than fashionistas

BillgatesIT and web design hirings are growing at a much faster rate than those in retail, research has found.

According to specialist technology recruiter Greythorn, 32,000 IT and web design jobs were created over the past year, marking a 12 percent rise, while retail job hirings rose by only three percent.

In the IT sector the biggest increase in jobs has been in web design which has risen 19.4 percent from 31,000 to 37,000 roles. The number of IT business architects and system designers has also risen 18.8 percent from 85,000 to 101,000 in the same period.

Graythorn said the contrast in hirings could be put down to the fact that online spending in the retail space had grown.

According to figures by the British Retail Consortium, online sales grew 10.9 percent in the year to February 2013, two and half times the rate of total retail sales, while the Office of National Statistics found an 8.7 percent increase in online retail sales despite a 0.6 percent year on year fall in overall retail sales.

Graythorn said that this had a knock on effect on the IT industry with large retailers hiring staff to work on their online and IT teams. One example is John Lewis which announced it would be hiring 100 new online staff, while making managerial cuts on the shop floor.

From their own figures, Greythorn said it had also seen growth of 89 percent in IT roles placed in online retail over the past year, compared with the previous twelve months.

Mark Baxter said as online shopping grew, companies were increasingly investing in improving the customer experience and the back office operations supporting online sales. He said this was a key stage in transferring to a high tech economy.

“The number of specialised new roles is growing and that is only good news for IT professionals,” he added.

As well as an increase in jobs, IT salaries are also typically higher than those in retail. The average salary of an IT system designer is £37,092, whereas a Retail Manager, with a similar level of seniority, earns an average salary of £21,237.

However, the recruiter pointed out that due to increased numbers and new roles, IT pay had seen slow growth with rises of 0.35 percent for IT system designers and 1.18 percent for software developers, and there has been a -0.45 percent fall in pay for web designers.

Pay growth in retail was described as a “mixed picture”, with strong rises of 3.13 percent for retail managers, but falls of -2.01 percent and -2.39 percent for sales cashiers and retail assistants respectively.

Retail sales index slump blamed on weather


UK retail sales are down and it seems the slump is worse than economists had predicted. According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), retail sales will hit a five-month low in February.

Although volumes continued to strengthen in the first half of February, the pace of growth slowed down once again. CBI found that 37 percent of retailers saw an increase in their volume in early 2013, while 29 percent reported a decline.

The resulting balance of 8 percent was the lowest figure since September 2012. It was also the third consecutive month in which the pace of growth had slowed. Economists expected growth to drop to 16 percent, down from 17 in January. They also expected the volume of orders to remain flat, but they fell 19 percent, the lowest figure since November 2011.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. CBI reckons the business situation is actually improving. The business situation balance rose to +12, the best result since August 2011. Some retail sub-sectors also did quite well, such as clothing, furniture and none-store goods, which includes online and mail order sales. In fact, non-store sales were up 70 percent.

“We all know trading is tough, and the bad weather hasn’t exactly been encouraging shoppers to hit the high street lately,” said Barry Williams, Chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

So, it appears that strong non-store sales had a lot to do with horrid weather, and the weather also contributed to the sharp decline in retail footfall last month.

ONS: youth unemployment up again

Jobcentre-plus-The job centre saw less footfall from October to December last year, with unemployment falling and the number of those in work rising, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment rates fell by 14,000 to 2.5 million, for the first time in two years, while the number of those in employment rose by 154,000 to 29.7 million. However, 163,000 were included as employed who were on government sponsored training programmes.

More than 580,000 people were counted as employed compared to this time last year. The ONS added that by the end of December there were 29.73 million UK people in employment. Of this, 73 percent were in full time work and the rest working part-time.

The ONS also found that the number of people in the UK claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 12,500 to 1.54 million, while some in work also saw a rise in wages, with the organisation finding total pay – including bonuses – rose by 1.4 percent and regular pay – excluding bonuses – rose by 1.3 percent from the same period in 2011.

In monetary terms this meant that average weekly earnings excluding
bonus payments stood at £445 in December 2012, before taxes and other deductions from gross pay, up from £439 a year earlier.

The statistics also show that youth unemployment increased by 11,000 to 974,000 – the highest rise for a year.

Other figures showed the number of self-employed workers increased by 25,000 to 4.2 million, and the number of people with more than one job increased by 41,000 to 1.1 million.