Employment rate remains at 75.6%, ONS figures reveal
Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between November 2017 to January 2018 and February to April 2018, the number of people in work increased, the number of unemployed people decreased and the number of people aged from 16 to 64 years not working and not seeking or available to work (economically inactive) also decreased.
There were 32.39m people in work, 146,000 more than for November 2017 to January 2018 and 440,000 more than for a year earlier.
The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were in work) was 75.6%, higher than for a year earlier (74.8%) and the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971.
There were 1.42m unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 38,000 fewer than for November 2017 to January 2018 and 115,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
The unemployment rate (the proportion of people in work plus unemployed people, who were unemployed) was 4.2%, down from 4.6% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975.
There were 8.65m people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 72,000 fewer than for November 2017 to January 2018 and 200,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
The inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive) was 21.0%, lower than for a year earlier (21.5%) and the joint lowest since comparable records began in 1971.
Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.8% excluding bonuses, and by 2.5% including bonuses, compared with a year earlier.
Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in real terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation) increased by 0.4% excluding bonuses, and by 0.1% including bonuses, compared with a year earlier.
Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) head of policy, Sophie Wingfield, stated, “We know that higher starting salaries are used to attract the right candidates in an ever tightening labour market, but this is still not translating in to broader wage rises across the country. For candidates moving jobs there is a strong chance of getting a pay rise.
“Our own Report on Jobs data shows that demand for staff has increased this month, but we have seen a further fall in staff availability. Whilst it is encouraging to see a rise in employment figures, a lack of candidates remains a major challenge for recruiters - particularly in areas like nursing, engineering, manufacturing and IT. Staff shortages are becoming business critical in many of these key sectors.
“With skills needs and candidate expectations continuing to evolve, employers need to do more to attract the right people. Government can help by ensuring the future UK workplace has the skills needed and put in place a balanced and evidence-based immigration system post-Brexit.”
Martin Talbot, director at totaljobs, said, “Today’s result marks another record-breaking employment rate for the UK. As such, job confidence has rocketed to an all-time high, with job security also resisting the pressure experienced across other sectors such as retail.
“It’s an exciting time for the employment sector and we are eager to see how employers will respond in such a competitive recruitment space.
“The ongoing optimism in the UK labour market is a very encouraging sign, and supports the recent positivity fronted by Amazon, who just announced its plans to create 2,500 jobs this year to expand its UK workforce.”
Tara Sinclair, economist and senior fellow at Indeed, commented, “Britain’s buoyant jobs market has managed to defy economic gravity once again, and is successfully floating above the sputtering economy. Despite its increasing tightness, the labour market continues to deliver an improbable combination of new jobs, falling unemployment and rising wages.
“If the job creation boom continues like this, full employment should soon move out of the hypothetical and into the real. But for now there is no sign that a lack of people is cramping the economy’s ability to create new jobs, even though both unemployment and the inactivity rate are at their lowest levels for more than four decades.
“Nevertheless the tightness in the labour market is forcing employers to fight ever harder for every recruit, and is steadily driving up wages. While workers will welcome the return of real wage growth, pay rises alone cannot deliver lasting benefits to the economy. In the long term rising wages can stoke inflation unless we see the one thing that continues to elude the surprisingly resilient labour market - better productivity.”
Ian Brinkley, acting chief economist at the CIPD, shared, “It’s positive to see the labour market continuing to expand, with more people in work pushing the employment rate even higher and unemployment falling to 4.2 per cent. While regular pay growth has reduced a little, comparing the figures to those in the same period last year, real pay continues to grow at much the same rate as before, as inflation has also edged down.
“However, there are signs of underlying weakness. Employment growth has become much more dependent on part time work, so total hours worked have fallen. Female part-time employment makes up more than a third of the annual increase in employment, which may suggest that employers are being forced to offer more flexible hours to attract more applicants against the backdrop of a tightening labour market and falling net migration.
“Overall, the labour market is expanding more slowly than in the past, and the hours worked measure has contracted slightly. As things stand, this looks more like a short term hiatus than the start of a more sustained decline.
“There is no sign that falling unemployment is feeding into higher wage growth, backing the Bank of England’s judgement that there is no immediate need for an interest rate rise.”
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com