According to the latest labour market data from the Office for National Statistics, in the final quarter of last year, the number of people in work increased by 37,000 (to 31.84 million) compared with the previous three months.
The figures show that 302,000 more people were in work compared with a year ago. Full-time work accounted for 218,000 of these new jobs, with part-time work contributing 84,000.
Following six consecutive quarters of growth, the employment rate reached a new record high of 74.6%. However, the pace of growth in employment has moderated from the average rate between 2012-2015, the ONS said.
There was little change in the number of unemployed people (1.6 million) compared to the third quarter in 2016, but this figure has dropped by 97,000 year-on-year.
As such, the unemployment rate was 4.8%, down from 5.1% a year earlier. This is the lowest level since the third quarter of 2005, and down 900,000 since 2010.
Responding to the figures, secretary for work and pensions, Damian Green, said: “With employment at its highest rate since records began, and unemployment at its lowest rate in over a decade, we remain in a position of strength.”
“With youth unemployment down, women in work at record levels and the number of disabled people in work increasing too, we’re delivering on our pledge to build a country that works for everyone.”
Without taking inflation into account, average weekly earnings increased by 2.6% compared with a year earlier.
However, the ONS reported that when the recent uptick in consumer price inflation is factored in, real average weekly earnings increased by 1.4% over the year, representing the weakest pace of growth since the last quarter of 2014.