UK employment rate hits record figures

GrowthFigures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that the number of people in employment in the UK has reached a record 32.7 million.

Although the country is facing a period of uncertainly, the 76.1% employment rate experienced between November 2018 and January 2019, is the highest since records began in 1971.

Unemployment fell by 35,000, taking it down to 1.34 million – putting the rate below 4% for the first time since 1975.

The figure is 112,000 lower than it was a year ago, giving a jobless rate of 3.9%. This is well below the EU average of 6.5%.

During the same period, the number of men in employment increased by 77,000 to a record high of 17.32 million. The number of employed women rose by 144,000 – taking it to a record high of 15.40 million. It was also the largest increase since 2014.

The UK’s highest regional employment rate was in the south west of England (79.9%), while the largest estimated increase in workforce jobs was in the south east (59,000).

In December, London (91.5%) had the highest estimated proportion of people working in the services sector, while the East Midlands had the biggest proportion of production jobs (14.5%).

Much of the jobs growth in recent years can be attributed to the fact that older Britons are staying in the workforce for longer. This is particularly the case as changes to the state pension age has resulted in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65. The ONS also said that the number of people in retirement has dropped to the lowest level in 25 years.

The government however argues that the rise in employment is down to its pro-business policies. Alok Sharma, the employment minister, said:

“Our jobs market remains resilient as we see more people than ever before benefitting from earning a wage.”

The positivity surrounding the UK’s job market is likely to come as a surprise to many. Whether you’re for or against the UK leaving the EU, there’s no doubt that the process is causing disruption and concern to both businesses and job seekers.

For now however, it appears as though Brexit is not dampening companies’ hiring spirits. Speaking about the current situation, Tej Parikh, a senior economist at the Institute of Directors commented:

“Businesses have been steadfast in bringing on board new staff and in creating vacancies, despite questions over the future path of the economy. But with uncertainty around Brexit reaching a crescendo, firms are becoming more and more cagey over their hiring decisions.”

John Philpott, the director of the Jobs Economist consultancy, continued:

“Nobody seems to have told the labour market about the mood of Brexit-related economic uncertainty which has gripped the UK since last autumn. These record-breaking jobs numbers seem extraordinary and suggest that only a recession-inducing hard Brexit is likely to have a noticeably negative impact on the UK’s employment situation.”

While we await to hear the outcome of Britain’s future, employers and job seekers can continue to enjoy the growing employment rates.

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