UK Employment Reaches Record High
By Sofy Robertson
The number of people in work in the UK has continued to climb, with the latest figures showing a record 32.6 million people employed between October and December.
Unemployment has changed very little in the three month period with 1.36 million people unemployed but the joblessness rate, remaining at 4%, is at its lowest since 1975.
Weekly average earnings are at their highest level since March 2011 with a 3.4% increase to £494.50 in the year to December.
The number of people in work between October and December was up 167,000 from the previous quarter and 444,000 higher than at the same time in 2017.
The employment rate is defined as the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who are working. This was estimated at 75.8%, higher than the 75.2% from a year earlier and the joint-highest figure since comparable estimates began in 1971.
Employment Minister Alok Sharma commented on these figures, saying:
“While the global economy is facing many challenges, particularly in sectors like manufacturing, these figures show the underlying resilience of our jobs market – once again delivering record employment levels.” (BBC)
ONS deputy head of labour market Matt Hughes said:
“The labour market remains robust, with the employment rate remaining at a record high and vacancies reaching a new record level.
“The unemployment rate has also fallen, and for women has dropped below 4% for the first time ever.”
Despite these positive figures from previous months, Andrew Wishart, UK economist at Capital Economics, warned that next month’s figures may not be as positive.
“The labour market data didn’t reflect the slip in hiring surveys in December, with employment rising.
“However, the surveys deteriorated more markedly in January, so a Brexit effect might start to weaken employment growth in the next batch of official data.”
In Devon, the figures remain positive for the time being, with the proportion of residents actively participating in Devon’s economy remaining above the national average at 80.8% compared to 78% nationally.
Despite a sharp fall of 3% in the second half of 2016, economic activity has been increasing steadily across Devon since mid-2011 and the total labour force has increased in size.
Self-employment rates in Devon are 4.5% above the national average. This follows a traditional theme of self-employment in Devon, especially in the more peripheral districts such as Torridge and North Devon where there may be fewer job opportunities.