UK March unemployment fell to 6.8%, a five year low, according to data published by the Office for National Statistic. Q1 2014 unemployment declined by 133,000 compared to Q4 2013.
There were a total of 2.21 million people out of work at the end of March, 309,000 fewer than one year ago.
The UK’s workforce, i.e. the number of people with jobs, increased to 30.43 million, the highest level since 1971 when records began.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the growth in the size of the country’s workforce was partly driven by a significant increase in the number of self-employed workers.
A total of 283,000 more people were in work in Q1 2014 compared to Q4 2013, and 722,000 more than in Q1 2013.
Approximately 72.7% of 16 to 64-year-olds had jobs in Q1 2014, compared to 72.1% in Q4 2013, and 71.4% in Q1 2013.
(Source: UK Department of Work & Pensions)
The size of the workforce shrank by 806,000 in the United States in April, 2014.
Earnings growth beat inflation
Average earnings during the first quarter of 2014 were 1.7% higher than in Q1 2013. However, earnings growth remained unchanged in March compared to February. Excluding bonuses, earnings increased 1.3% compared to March 2013.
Prices (inflation) increased by 1.6% in March, less than the earnings growth. It is the first time since 2010 that earnings have risen more rapidly than inflation.
Esther McVey, Minister for Employment, said:
“As the recovery takes hold, more people are able to get a job or set up their own business and become the employers of tomorrow. Each and every person who has made a new start or hired someone new is helping to make Britain a more prosperous and confident place to be.”
“We will continue to support those in and out of work who want to get on and fulfil their ambitions for a more secure future.”
Decline in Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants
The number of individuals claiming JSA (Jobseeker’s Allowance) declined by 25,100 last month and is 399,600 lower than a year ago.
There were 93,200 fewer people claiming JSA for more than one year last month compared to the same month in 2013, the largest yearly fall since 1998. The number of young people claiming JSA has dropped for 23 successive months.
The total number of job vacancies increased by 116,000 compared to last year, reaching 628,000.
Alan Tovey writes in the Telegraph that the rise in the number of self-employed workers has been boosted by those setting up on their own after redundancy. Many of these individuals cannot find enough work, 1.29 million of them work only part time.
Video – UK March Unemployment
This video, published by the Office for National Statistics, contains a summary of the UK labor market covering the period January to March 2014.