UK employment total hits record high

The number of employed UK people has reached a record high of 32.54 million

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the UK employment total has hit a record high.

Wage increases continued to outpace inflation, causing average earnings excluding bonuses to increase by 3.3% in the year to November. The number of job vacancies rose by 10,000 to a record high of 853,000.

ONS head of labour market David Freeman said: “The number of people working grew again, with the share of the population in work now the highest on record.

“Meanwhile, the share of the workforce looking for work and unable to find it remains at its lowest for over 40 years, helped by a record number of job vacancies.

“Wage growth continues to outpace inflation, which fell back slightly in the latest month.”

Unemployment is 68,000 lower than one year ago, with the jobless rate 0.2% down on this time in 2018. The number of job vacancies increased by 10,000 to a record high of 853,000.

The increase in both unemployment and employment is explained by the UK’s rising population and fewer people being classed as economically inactive, including those on long-term sick leave, students, and people who have given up searching for work.

Employment Minister Alok Sharma said: “Our pro-business policies have helped boost private sector employment by 3.8 million since 2010, and as the Resolution Foundation’s latest report shows, the ‘jobs-boom has helped some of the most disadvantaged groups find employment’, providing opportunities across society.”

Andrew Wishart, UK economist at Capital Economics, said the figures were “reassuring, showing no sign of any hit to firms’ hiring ambitions due to Brexit”.

However, Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, warned that the pace of wage increases may begin to ease off.

“We doubt that wage growth will be sustained over the next six months at November’s strong rate,” he said, “Pay settlements likely will weaken this year, as the previous year’s inflation rate usually is the starting point for negotiations.

“Nonetheless, the labour market now looks tight enough to ensure that wage growth does not slip below the 3% mark.”

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