UK unemployment rate ‘lowest in nearly seven years’

17 Apr 15

The UK’s unemployment rate fell to 5.6% between December and February, the lowest proportion of people out of work since the three months to July 2008, the Office of National Statistics figures have revealed.

The latest labour market data showed that the number of unemployed people looking for work fell by 76,000 between December and February to 1.84 million, and there were 416,000 fewer people out of work compared to same period the previous year.

The employment rate reached has now reached 73.4%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971, according to the ONS. Overall, employment grew by 248,000 to pass 31 million.

Commenting on today’s jobs figures, Prime Minister David Cameron said there were now 2 million more people in work than in 2010.

He said: ‘This is thanks to the hard work and the determination of the British people, and the Conservatives’ strong leadership and clear economic plan.’

Ben Brettell, a senior economist at financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said the ONS figures compared ‘favourably with the UK’s developed peers’. 

He added: ‘The unemployment rate is almost as low as in the US, where unemployment hit 5.5% in February. In the euro zone, the rate is more than double the UK’s at 11.3%.

‘Wages continue to grow at a steady, if unspectacular pace – in the three months to February pay was 1.7% higher than a year earlier including bonuses, and 1.8% higher excluding bonuses.’

Geraint Johnes, director at Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, agreed that pay growth was slow, adding that ‘the picture on pay remains very mixed’.

Similarly, Matthew Whittaker, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation, said it was encouraging to see the recent jobs recovery continue in 2015 and see real wage growth strengthen after a seven year squeeze.

But he warned that there was still a lot of ground to make up before pay packets return to pre-crash levels.

‘With inflation already at zero, this much-needed catch-up rests on far stronger nominal pay growth, underpinned by rising productivity,’ he said.


  • Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith Ugwumadu joined Public Finance International and Public Finance online as a reporter after stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express. Currently, she writes about public finance, public services and economics.

    Follow her on @JudithUgwumadu_

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