Unemployment figures fall to 42-year low

14 Sep 17

The unemployment rate fell to 4.3% in the three months to July, the lowest since 1975, official figures have revealed.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed the number of unemployed people was 75,000 lower than it was three months ago - a 0.2% drop - and 175,000 lower than a year ago.

The rate in the three months to July was down from the 4.4% recorded between April and June this year.

But the improving employment rate comes as real-terms pay dipped over the same period. The ONS stated real average weekly earnings fell 0.4% in the last three months, compared to last year.

Pay, not including bonuses, had increased by 2.1% in the three months to July but once inflation was factored in it left workers with less money in their pockets.

Yesterday’s figures showed the number of people in work in the UK increased by 181,000 in the three months to July to a new record high of 32.1 million, following three consecutive quarters (including the current quarter) of growth.

Separate ONS figures out yesterday also showed the number of public sector employees in June 2017 was 5.440 million, up 15,000 from the previous quarter and 14,000 on the previous year. 

Central government employment was also up 28,000 on the previous quarter - at 3.021 million - the highest since comparable records begain in 1999.

Local government employment was down 12,000 at 2.115 million - the lowest since records began in 1999. 

Employment minister Damian Hinds said: “The strength of the economy is helping people of all ages find work, from someone starting their first job after leaving education, to those who might be starting a new career later in life.

“Britain’s employment success is largely about a growth in full-time and permanent work, as employers invest in Britain and offer quality job opportunities that put more money into people’s pockets.”

But the Resolution Foundation warned that the strength in the jobs market was not translating into better pay.

Stephen Clarke, policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said he welcomed the fall in inactivity and greater employment.

Clarke added: “The welcome news on jobs is failing to feed through into pay packets. And with the pace of inflation increasing again there is a risk that the pay squeeze could get worse before it starts to gets better.

“The scale of our long-standing pay disaster means that wages are still £16 a week lower than their 2008. Unless things improve we could be looking at 15 years of lost pay growth.”

Yesterday’s ONS figures show inflation hit 2.9% after two months of it standing at 2.6%.

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