UK job quality stalls for first time

Bucket of cleaning equipment

A measure of the quality of jobs done by workers in the UK has fallen slightly for the first time.

Since 1994, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has produced an annual figure that estimates the skill-level in the country’s jobs.

The figure would be increased if the proportion of skilled jobs rose and would fall if the proportion of unskilled jobs rose.

The 2014 figure fell slightly. In the previous 20 years it has always risen.

The lack of growth in the country’s skill profile may be partly explained by there being a bigger-than-average increase in hours worked by people aged 16 to 29, who would be expected to have lower wages and skill profiles than more experienced workers.

The ONS also measures the number of hours worked in the economy. The number of hours worked increased by the largest amount since comparable records began in 1994.

The fact that labour quality continued rising after the financial crisis even though the value of the work done per hour declined is part of what has been called the productivity puzzle.

The ONS says that the decline in labour quality last year and only small increase in 2013: “suggest only that labour quality has stopped exacerbating the productivity puzzle; they do not explain it.”

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