News | Published December 17 2019

ONS: UK unemployment lowest since 1975

In the three months to October 2019, the unemployment rate in the UK fell to its lowest recorded level since January 1975 according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The number of unemployed people decreased by 13,000, down to 1.281 million and equivalent to roughly 3.8 per cent. 

Although this is 0.3 percentage points down on the previous year, it is largely the same when compared to the previous quarter of 2019.

Meanwhile, despite being broadly flat over recent quarters, the UK employment rate hit a record-high of 76.2 per cent, after a 24,000 increase of people in work to 32.8 million overall. It is an increase on the previous year of 0.4 percentage points.

UK job vacancies for September to November were around 794,000; down by 20,000 on the previous quarter and 59,000 less than the same period in 2018.

Wage growth in weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, slowed to 3.5 per cent compared to 3.6 per cent in the three months to September, which is equivalent to around 1.8 per cent in real terms.

For October 2019, average regular gross pay, excluding bonuses, was estimated at £509.68 per week.

The ONS labour market chief David Freeman said: "While the estimate of the employment rate nudged up in the most recent quarter, the longer-term picture has seen it broadly flat over the last few quarters. However, unemployment among women has reached a new record low.

"Vacancies have fallen for 10 months in a row and are now below 800,000 for the first time in over two years.

"Pay is still increasing in real terms, but its growth rate has slowed in the last few months.”

The estimated annual growth in average weekly earnings was at 3.2 per cent with bonuses taken into account, which in real terms equates to around 1.5 per cent.

The slowdown in total pay growth has been blamed on atypically high bonuses paid out to some workers in October last year, while bonus levels this year returned to normal levels.

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
December 17 2019

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