Unemployment stays at 11-year low

18 Jan 17

The unemployment rate remained at an 11-year low for the three months to November last year, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown.

Today’s data shows that the unemployment rate was 4.8% for the September-November period last year, with the number of unemployed people falling to 1.6 million.

Meanwhile, the rate of employment returned to its record high of 74.5%.

Commenting on the figures, employment minister Damian Hinds said: “We start the new year with another encouraging set of figures.

“Employment continues to run at a near-record high, unemployment remains at an 11-year low and both figures are stronger than this time last year – highlighting the strength and resilience of our labour market as we step up to the challenges of 2017.

Analysts suggested the figures to indicate that the UK jobs market has responded with resilience to the Brexit vote last June. 

Laura Gardiner, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The UK jobs market continues to impress with employment back to a record high and unemployment still below 5%.

However, she pointed out that rising inflation may lead to tightened incomes for many people unless wages also grow.

“The big question for this year is whether pay settlements respond to rising prices and a tight jobs market. If they don’t, a fresh pay squeeze later this year remains on the cards.”

The ONS figures also reveal an increase in average weekly earnings from 2.6% to 2.8%.

Ben Brettal, senior economist at investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said that although the wage growth was good news for consumer spending and economic growth, “it could be an indicator of some tightening in the labour market” caused by employers edging up wages in competition for workers.  

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