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Unemployment rate remains at 4.0%

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey show that, between July to September 2018 and October to December 2018, the number of people in work increased, while the number of unemployed people and the number of people aged from 16 to 64 years not working and not seeking nor available to work (economically inactive) both fell.


There were an estimated 32.60m people in work, 167,000 more than for July to September 2018 and 444,000 more than for a year earlier.


The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were in work) was estimated at 75.8%, higher than for a year earlier (75.2%) and the joint-highest since comparable estimates began in 1971.


There were an estimated 844,000 people (not seasonally adjusted) in employment on zero-hours contracts in their main job, 57,000 fewer than for a year earlier.


There were an estimated 1.36m unemployed people (people not in work but seeking and available to work), 14,000 fewer than for July to September 2018 and 100,000 fewer than for a year earlier.


The unemployment rate (the number of unemployed people as a proportion of all employed and unemployed people) was estimated at 4.0%, it has not been lower since December 1974 to February 1975.


There were an estimated 8.63m people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking nor available to work), 94,000 fewer than for July to September 2018 and 153,000 fewer than for a year earlier.


The economic inactivity rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were economically inactive) was estimated at 20.9%, the lowest figure since comparable estimates 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 3.4% both excluding and 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 1.2% excluding bonuses, and by 1.3% including bonuses, compared with a year earlier.


Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) director of policy, Tom Hadley, shared, "Today’s figures once again highlight the resilience of the UK jobs market, with record vacancies and numbers of people in work. However, we cannot this for granted as our JobsOutlook data shows a significant downturn in businesses confidence in the UK economy which is already impacting on future hiring intentions.


“There is a real fear, as we are seeing in the UK manufacturing industry, that we will see lower growth and fewer opportunities in the future. The political uncertainty surrounding our future relationship with the EU is only compounding matters and putting off businesses from making future hiring plans and deterring foreign companies from investing in the UK. The sooner employers get some clarity, the better it will be for our jobs market.


“On a positive note, the record number of vacancies shows that opportunities are there for job-seekers at present. The challenge in many sectors is finding the right candidates to fills these roles which is why recruitment professionals are playing an increasingly pivotal role in supporting employers to innovate and adapt their hiring strategies to an uncertain and evolving landscape.”


Jon Boys, labour market economist for the CIPD, said, “Not only is employment at a record high but the increase in jobs is largely driven by full-time roles. This is good news for jobseekers.


“Today’s official data takes us up until the end of 2018. However, the CIPD’s more recent data suggests that employers expect that both employment and wage growth will stay strong throughout the first quarter of 2019. Nominal wage growth is being driven by the demand for skills. With low inflation expected to continue for most of the year we can expect a real terms pay rise for many in 2019.


“For now, most employers remain optimistic about their ability to take on new staff but with Brexit just a matter of weeks away it’s uncertain how the mood will change after March. To prepare for this, it’s vital that employers plan for a number of possible scenarios for their workforce. While there’s optimism around hiring, access to skills continues to be a challenge for employers. With fewer EU nationals working in the UK as the same time last year, it’s vital that the Government recognises the need for a flexible post Brexit migration system to avoid worsening skill and labour shortages.”


Pawel Adrjan, UK economist at Indeed, commented, “A year ago the average Briton’s spending power was stagnating as paypackets were caught in the crosshairs of low wage growth and painfully high inflation.


“Now, as inflation slows to its lowest rate in two years, a series of strong rises in average wages has swelled both paypackets and workers’ spending power.


“Rising wages are a byproduct of Britain’s relentlessly tight labour market, which is still bumping along the ceiling of full employment. With the proportion of working age people who have a job remaining at the highest level ever recorded, employers are being forced to crank up wages to prise recruits away from other jobs.


“There are signs the market could get even tighter in coming months. Indeed’s data shows that the proportion of online searches for UK jobs coming from other European countries fell by 5% in the three years to January. By contrast, the number of UK-based jobseekers searching for roles in the EU jumped by 11% during the same period. While the latest quarterly data shows a pick-up in the number of both EU and non-EU workers, the Brexodus of talent remains a real risk.


“With economic growth slowing, wage demands rising and continued uncertainty about future migration policy, these are testing times for Britain’s employers.”


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