News | Published March 19 2019

Employment at highest level since records began

Britain’s employment rate has reached its highest level since records began, according to new figures published today.

The number of people in work rose by 473,000 in the last year, while the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 per cent in November-January, the lowest rate since 1975.

The UK employment rate is now estimated to be at 76.1 per cent, 0.8 per cent higher than last year and the highest rate recorded since comparable records began in 1971.

The ONS figures also show that total pay growth fell marginally to an annual rate of 3.4 per cent, down 0.1 per cent from the previous three months.

This equates to a 1.4 per cent growth in real pay when adjusted for inflation – the fastest rate since August 2016. However, earnings have still not recovered to pre-2008 levels in real terms.

The figures were published unusually early this morning, following a technical error which led to the accidental release of some figures. Such market-sensitive statistics are usually released according to a strict schedule.

Commenting on the employment figures, minister of state for employment Alok Sharma said: “Today’s employment figures are further evidence of the strong economy the Chancellor detailed in last week’s spring statement, showing how our pro-business policies are delivering record employment.

“2019 has continued to be a record breaker, with the employment rate topping 76 per cent for the first time, record female employment and unemployment falling below 4 per cent for the first time in 44 years.

“Our jobs market remains resilient as we see more people than ever before benefitting from earning a wage. By backing the government’s Brexit deal and giving certainty to business, MPs have the chance to safeguard this jobs track record.”

These comments come the day after commons speaker John Bercow surprised MPs with the announcement that he would not allow the government to bring forward another vote on its Brexit deal this week.

Though the figures appear to suggest that jobs market has not been hurt by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, some have warned that the picture might not be so positive.

Andrew Wishart of Capital Economics said that the figures “will add to concerns that the Brexit-related fall in investment is having a detrimental effect on the economy, as firms have opted to hire workers to meet demand rather than invest. It is also a mix that could push up inflation.”

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Authored by

Benjamin Goodwin
March 19 2019

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