The UK’s jobs market is flourishing despite Brexit uncertainty as more Britons get jobs and the unemployment rate for women has fallen to its lowest ever.
In the final three months of 2018, the number of people in work increased by 167,000 to a new record high of 32.6million. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said most of the growth was among British nationals.
Unemployment fell by 14,000 to 1.36 million, 100,000 lower than a year ago, the ONS said. Vacancies increased by 16,000 to a record high of 870,000.
The UK’s jobless rate is now 4 per cent, down by 0.3 per cent on a year ago, and the lowest since 1975. For women, the rate is even lower – dropping below 4 per cent for the first time.
Average earnings increased by 3.4 per cent in the year to December, the highest for ten years, outdoing inflation – reported as 1.8 per cent last week.
Employment Minister Alok Sharma has said the ‘record employment levels’ have been fuelled by Government’s pro-business policies.
Sharma said: ‘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.
‘Our pro-business policies mean we have started the new year with a strong labour market, with wages outpacing inflation for the 11th month in a row, and more people in work than ever before.
‘It’s also excellent news that we see the rate of women in employment at a record high.
‘Of course, we need to ensure that we continue to provide one-to-one support for anyone whose jobs may be at risk, or who might be looking to move to a new role.’
Lord Green of Deddington, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: ‘The increase in UK-born workers of 350,000 is good news but there are still some four million UK-born who are either looking for work or would like more hours of work.
‘This is a resource that can and should be tapped.’
ONS senior statistician 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 per cent for the first time ever.
‘Most of the growth in employment over the past year is among British nationals.’
The report revealed that the number of overseas nationals in work was still increasing despite a drop in those from the Eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004 because more people from non-EU countries are in work.
There were an estimated 2.27 million EU nationals working in the UK in the latest quarter, 61,000 fewer than a year earlier, while the number of non-EU nationals increased by 130,000 to 1.29 million.
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