UK employment ‘highest since records began’

21 Jul 16

The UK employment rate has climbed to 74.4%, the highest since records began in 1971.

Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics for the three months from March to May showed a healthy picture of employment in the country. It found that the number of people aged 16 to 64 in work had risen to 31.7 million, an increase of 176,000 on the three months to February 2016.

This is an increase of 624,000 people on the same period last year, and the largest increase since November 2015.

The rate of unemployment has also continued its downward trend and now stands at 4.9%, compared to 5.1% for the previous three-month period (February to March), and down from 5.6% a year earlier.

This represents the lowest rate of unemployment in 11 years and means there are 1.65m unemployed people in the UK, 54,000 fewer than for the previous three-month period.

Welcoming the figures, work and pensions secretary Damian Green said: “This remarkable set of figures shows that there are more people in work than at any other point in our history, which is fantastic news as we build a Britain that works for everybody, not just the privileged few.

“We’ve entered a period of significant change, but when it comes to our jobs market we’re in a position of strength, with over 2.6 million more people in work than there were in 2010, the number of workless households cut to an all-time low, 750,000 vacancies in the economy and wages rising too.”

In its analysis, economic forecasters Oxford Economics said it was too soon to gauge the impact of the Brexit vote, but there were “reassuring signs” that unemployment was due to fall even further.

In a statement, it quoted the Bank of England’s Agents’ summary of business conditions in July, published yesterday, which said: “A majority of firms spoken with did not expect a near-term impact from the [Brexit vote] on their investment of staff hiring plans.”

Also, although the ONS reported the average growth in pay for the last three months rose from 2% in April to 2.3% in May, Oxford Economics observed that, on a single-month basis, pay growth had in fact slumped from 2.6% to 2.1%.  

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