Unemployment falls in the first quarter of 2015

13 May 15

The UK’s employment rate fell to 5.5% in the three months to March, the lowest since mid-2008, while wages rose ahead of inflation, figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed.

The latest labour market data showed that the number of unemployed people looking for work fell by 35,000 between January to March to 1.83 million, and there were 386,000 fewer people out of work compared to the same period the previous year.

The employment rate has now reached 73.5%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971, according to the ONS. Overall, employment grew by 202,000 to pass 31.1 million.

Total average earnings – including bonuses – increased by 1.9% in the quarter compared with a year ago, up from 1.7% in February.

Commenting on today’s figures new employment minister Priti Patel said employment was at an all-time high and more women were in work than ever, thanks to the government’s economic plan.

She said: ‘Behind the statistics are countless stories of individual hard work and determination – of people feeling more financially secure with a regular wage.

‘I want to continue to ensure our welfare reforms are giving people the skills and opportunities to move into work to give everyone in our country the chance to make the most of their lives.’

Chris Warhurst, director of the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick, said if Britain’s economic growth was to be sustained, more would need to be done in the medium and longer-term to further raise employment rates and lower rates of unemployment and inactivity.

‘The good news is that more people of working age have jobs. The number of people in work continues to rise, hitting a new high,’ he said.

‘Worryingly, the unemployment rate for younger adults aged 16-24 years was 15.9%, again only slightly lower than for October to December 2014 (16.2%).’

  • 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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