Commenting on today’s release of labour market data by the Office for National Statistics, Christian Spence, head of research and policy at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said:

“The latest data shows continued resilience in the UK labour market with unemployment falling 57,000 in the last quarter to 4.4%, the lowest unemployment rate since 1975. Employment increased by 125,000 since the first quarter reaching a record employment rate 75.1%, with inactivity also falling to record lows.

“In Greater Manchester, Jobseekers’ Allowance claims have fallen to a record low with around 22,000 people claiming this benefit, a rate of 1.2% which is comparable to the UK overall.

“However, whilst our members through our recent Quarterly Economic Survey continue to report increasingly strong recruitment difficulties with the labour market so tight, it appears that unemployment remains above the level at which wage inflation will start to increase pay for employees overall. Average weekly earnings increased by 2.1% which, in real terms, is a 0.5% fall. This is likely to continue to squeeze household expenditure across the coming months, creating a downside pressure on economic growth overall.

“Our forecasts are for UK growth of 1.6% this year and 1.5% in 2018, with Greater Manchester’s economy expected to outperform the national average at around 3.25% growth in 2017.”

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About Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is the largest Chamber of Commerce in the UK, providing business support to approximately 4,500 members who collectively employ 446,000 people, around one-third of Greater Manchester’s workforce.

Recognised as a leader in its field, Greater Manchester Chamber’s reputation in government circles has grown locally and nationally. At the heart of the area of greatest economic intensity outside London and the South East, the Chamber is the primary body for business support, policy, representation and networking.
The Chamber is an independent, not-for-profit private company and its aim is to support businesses and help create the best climate for the region to prosper. This is achieved by ensuring that those taking decisions on key issues such as transport, taxation and business regulation hear the voice of our members. The representation of our members’ views is central to the work of the policy team at the Chamber; these views are gathered in a range of ways including our local councils, policy committees, sector councils, the main Chamber council, focus groups, meetings with politicians and consultations.

The Chamber also offers a range of networking forums across Greater Manchester, free as part of membership, plus a variety of other events and services designed to benefit specific sectors or individuals and help businesses to grow.