Unemployment figures fall to 42-year low

16 Aug 17

The UK jobless rate fell to 4.4% down from 4.9% a year earlier, a 42-year low, Office for National Statistics data shows.

There were 57,000 fewer unemployed people between April and June this year compared to January to March 2017, and 157,000 fewer than the same period year earlier.

Today’s official figures also showed the employment rate between April to June this year reached 75.1% - the highest since 1971.

There were 32.07 million people in work, 125,000 more than for January to March 2017 and 338,000 more than for the same three months year earlier.

The number of people on zero-hour contracts fell by 20,000 to 883,000 compared to this time last year.

Although, the ONS said average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in real terms, adjusted for price inflation, fell by 0.5%, both including and excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

According to the ONS, nominal wages grew by 2.1% but coupled with a 2.6% inflation rate, as figures out yesterday showed, workers’ pay is likely to be squeezed.

Trade union umbrella-body TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Rising prices and stagnant pay are a toxic combination for working people.

"This is the fourth month in a row where wages have fallen behind the cost of living."

She said it was time to "boost wages by scrapping the pay restrictions in the public sector, investing in infrastructure, and increasing the minimum wage".

Stephen Clarke, policy analyst at the think-tank the Resolution Foundation, said: “It’s good news that employers are having to up the security of the jobs they are offering, and that workers can be more picky in turning down insecure work than they could have been a few years ago thanks to a tightening labour market."

But he added: "There is no sign of the jobs boom feeding through into badly needed pay rises."

Minister for employment, Damian Hinds said today's figures were "great news".

He said more than 3 million more people are in work now than in 2010, with 7 in 10 of these roles being in higher skilled work.

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