Unemployment down to pre-recession low

20 Jan 16

The number of people out of work has fallen to the lowest level since before the 2008 recession that followed the financial crisis, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics today.

In total, there were 1.67 million people unemployed in the three month period from September to November last year, down 99,000 from the previous three months, and 239,000 lower than the same period in 2014.

The last time the number of people out of work was lower was the three months between March and May in 2008. The second quarter of 2008 registered the first contraction of the recession, which would last for five quarters.

The percentage of people out of work is 5.1%, which is the lowest level since the three-month period to October 2005, while the number of people in work has never been higher at 31.4 million.

Responding to the figures, employment minister Priti Patel said wage growth of 2% over the last year also showed that 2016 had got off to a fantastic start.

“There are now more people in work than ever before and wages are growing – a credit to hardworking Brits and businesses alike. And in a further demonstration of the strength of the UK labour market, today’s figures show there are a record three quarters of a million vacancies.”

Responding to the figures, the Resolution Foundation think-tank said the job market continued to strengthen, with strong growth in both full-time jobs and self-employment.

However, senior policy analyst Laura Gardiner noted the pay recovery risked running out of steam.

“Real earnings growth has fallen back below its pre-crisis trend, even while inflation remains close to zero,” she said.

“One of the key economic tests for 2016 is whether the early signs of a productivity recovery will strengthen enough to offset rising inflation and put the UK’s pay recovery back on track.”

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