Employment hits record high as UK firms keep on hiring

More workers than ever before are employed in the UK as upbeat companies show few signs of worry over the state of the economy.

Employment climbed by 37,000 to 31.84m in the three months to December, while unemployment stayed steady at 1.6m – a level which has fallen by almost 100,000 over the past year as a whole.

The unemployment rate stayed at 4.8pc, its joint-lowest rate in 11 years while the employment rate hit a new record high of 74.6pc.

Female employment hit a new milestone, with more than 70pc of women in work for the first time, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The number of people claiming out of work benefits in January fell by 42,400 to 745,000, the lowest level since February 2016.


“Continued moderate growth in employment has led to a new high in the total employment rate, while the rate for women has reached 70pc for the first time on record,” said ONS senior statistician David Freeman.

“Overall, the labour market appears to be edging towards full capacity.”

Wage growth was more muted, however.

Average weekly pay increased by 2.6pc on the year, down a touch from the 2.7pc growth in the year to November.

That comes at a time of rising inflation – prices rose by 1.6pc in the 12 months to December, meaning workers’ spending power increased at the slowest pace since 2014.

Economist James Smith at ING said “the surprise fall in wage growth is… alarming”, adding that he does not expect pay to pick up pace in the coming months.

“We expect inflation to break above 3pc this year, which will mean that incomes will begin to fall in real terms,” he said.

“Add in the slower outlook for jobs growth, and it looks like it could be an increasingly tough year for consumers.”

Meanwhile, the number of non-UK workers in the country dipped by 9,000 compared with the previous three-month period, falling to 5.54m.

That is still up by more than 400,000 on the year, however, and the ONS said it could just be a seasonal dip rather than a sign of fewer foreign workers moving to the UK after the Brexit referendum.

Source: The Telegraph – Tim Wallace – 15th February 2017


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