Unemployment rate lowest in a decade
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics released today show the unemployment rate now stands at 5.0%, its lowest rate since 2005.
The employment rate has stayed at a record high of 74.2%, there are nearly 31.6 million people in work with around 750,000 unfilled vacancies in the economy at any one time
There are nearly half-a-million more people in work compared to a year ago, with wages before bonuses up by 2.3% in the same period.
The ONS has attributed the growth in employment to the increase in full-time work.
The female employment remains at 69.2%, the highest since records began in 1971.
However, this figure is likely to be impacted by changes to the age of retirement for women, meaning more, older female workers are still in employment than under the old retirement rules.
At 5.6%, the proportion of 16-24 year olds who have left full-time education and are unemployed is 5.6%, the lowest on record.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Stephen Crabb, said, “Secure employment and a decent wage are key to transforming the life chances of people right the way across the country, so I’m delighted to see another strong set of figures this month.
“There are more people in work than ever before and wages are continuing their upward climb, which is great news for hardworking families who have seen a rise in their living standards over the past year.
“Our economic plan is delivering jobs and security right across the UK.”
John Salt, group sales director at totaljobs, said, “As this is the last time that the ONS will release its official jobs figures before the upcoming referendum, the fact that unemployment has fallen will undoubtedly be used by the Remain campaign to argue that we’re better, and more economically stable, in Europe. Given the instability that the referendum has caused for businesses of all sizes, it’s really encouraging to see that hiring hasn’t stopped. It’s now over to the Government to do all it can, regardless of outcome, to continue to reassure businesses and put in place measures that allow them to keep on recruiting.”
Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, commented, “There’s no escaping the Brexit debate – and the impact on jobs is top of the agenda. Companies are holding their breath awaiting the outcome. And next week employees and employers could awake to a much changed jobs outlook – whatever the result. Uncertainty over the past couple of months has added to pressure on employers, leaving new jobs, investment and finances in doubt – and this could stay throughout the summer. The effects of the National Living Wage are only just being felt and advertised salaries are being cutback, falling 1% in April to £33,462 – the highest monthly percentage fall since September 2014.
“For those in work, rising wages are a positive sign that employers are keen to keep workers happy and focus on retention. After a period of adjustment, summer could see a calmer jobs market once again. But there is also a real risk that a Brexit could affect hiring for the next few years. A Leave vote would mean years of renegotiation, lower international investment, and a rocky political landscape, all of which may hurt hiring.”
Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser at the CIPD, commented, “The pick-up in wage growth we’re seeing today might seem to suggest that the tight labour market is finally feeding through to wages. However, this boost to earnings may be short-lived unless employers are able to increase their productivity to meet the additional cost of the National Living Wage. If efforts to improve productivity fail to materialise, the obvious response from many employers will be to cut back on overall pay awards or wider employee benefits. If this doesn’t happen, we can expect to see lower pay growth in some of organisations and job losses in others.
“In addition, many commentators will cite the uncertainty about the upcoming EU Referendum vote as the key reason for the slowdown in hiring. However, this would ignore the wider concern about a slowing economy and employers’ increasing concerns over the cost implications of the National Living Wage, pension auto-enrolment and the impending Apprenticeship Levy. Overall, the data makes the case for improved productivity an even more pressing concern. If businesses are putting employment decisions on hold, they should use this time to take stock of the skills, technology and working practices needed to move their businesses forward in the long-term, regardless of what the EU decision is. They can do this by improving the quality of leadership and management, up-skilling existing staff and redesigning jobs to enable people to work smarter rather than harder.”