Commenting on the latest ONS Labour Market statistics released today, Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: “The latest statistics show that the UK labour market continued to perform strongly last autumn. Unemployment has fallen back below 2.5 million on the back of continued strong jobs growth, specifically in full-time positions. Employers’ continued willingness to recruit and retain staff in the face of uncertain demand conditions will in part be due to continued pay moderation in both the public and private sector. This has helped maintain competitiveness even during a period of weak productivity growth, as evident in the latest figures for unit labour costs, which fell in the third quarter of 2012.

“However, a continuing source of concern is the labour market position of young people. Compared to last month’s figures, the number of unemployed 18-24 year olds has increased whereas unemployment in age groups 25-64 has fallen. If this trend continues we risk a permanent scar on the labour market. It is in employers’ interests to build their future skills base by recruiting the next generation of workers. But it is also important that young people receive the right careers advice and support necessary to enable them to benefit from employment growth.”