Unemployment stays at 10-year low of 5.1%

17 Feb 16

The unemployment rate remained at its lowest rate in a decade at 5.1% in the three months to December, according to latest Office for National Statistics data.

The ONS also recorded an all-time-high employment rate of 74.1%, record lows in the number of young people leaving education and becoming unemployed, 2% wage growth and the lowest number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits since 1975.

There were a total of 31.4 million people in work, of whom nearly 23 million were working full time. The number of unemployed people was 1.7 million, down 172,000 on a year earlier when the unemployment rate was 5.7%.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith hailed the figures as proof that the government’s economic and welfare reforms are working.

Figures show that there are now 31.4 million people in work, up 521,000 compared with this time last year, which the DWP said was fuelled by a rise in full-time employment.

Wages before bonuses grew by 2% compared with February last year and the number and proportion of young people who fall into unemployment after leaving full time education fell to 5.6% – the lowest on record, the DWP said.

The Resolution Foundation agreed that the job market “continues to impress” with job growth seen across all areas of the labour market. Jobs growth was strongest in the North West, followed by London and the North East, the foundation noted. However, Northern Ireland and the South East still had “jobs gaps” to make up.

But senior policy analyst Laura Gardiner warned: “The outlook for pay is more troubling, with the UK’s nascent productivity recovery actually falling back towards the end of last year.

“With inflation finally starting to rise again, far stronger productivity growth will be needed if we’re to have any hope of recovering some of the ground lost during the UK’s seven-year pay squeeze.”

Did you enjoy this article?