Unemployment hits ten year low and employment higher than ever

Britain’s unemployment rate has hit a ten-year low, falling to 5.1% compared to 5.8% one year ago. The employment rate, at 74%, is the highest ever (since records began in 1971), according to figures published on Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics.

In the September-to-November 2015 period, there were 31.39 million people in work, which was 267,000 more than for June-to-August 2015 and 588,000 more than the same time a year earlier.

During the same period, there were 22.96 million full-time workers, 436,000 more than a year earlier. There were 8.43 million part-time workers, 152,000 more than a year earlier.

Employment and Unemployment UKThe number of people in work is at an all-time record level, while unemployment is at a ten-year low. (Image: ons.gov.uk)

1.68 million people unemployed

The number of unemployed people fell to 1.68 million during the September-to-November period, 99,000 fewer compared to the June-to-August period and 239,000 fewer than a year earlier.

There were 919,000 and 756,00 unemployed men and women respectively, which were 149,000 and 89,000 fewer than a year earlier respectively.

The last time the unemployment rate (5.1%) was lower was during the August-to-October period in 2005. The Office for National Statistics defines the unemployment rate as the percentage of the labour force (people in work plus those unemployed) that were unemployed.

A total of 8.92 million people aged 16 to 64 were economically inactive, i.e. not working and not looking for or available to work. This was 83,000 fewer than for June-to-August 2015, and 172,000 fewer than a year earlier.

Average Weekly EarningsAverage weekly earnings grew by more than the inflation rate (0.2%), meaning workers’ purchasing power has improved. (Image: ons.gov.uk)

Average weekly earnings for British workers rose by 2% including bonuses and by 1.9% excluding bonuses compared to the previous year.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne celebrated the figures, and said that “every new job means the security of a pay packet for a worker and their family.”

Today, Mr. Osborne tweeted the following message “Our plan for full employment and wages is delivering for working people but we can’t rest as we help hardest-to-reach into work.”

David Cameron on unemployment rate TwitterPrime Minister David Cameron was clearly pleased with the unemployment figures published today. (Image: twitter.com/David_Cameron)

Minister of State for Employment Priti Patel said:

“This is a record-breaking set of figures and has got 2016 off to a fantastic start. There are now more people in work than ever before and wages are growing – a credit to hard-working Brits and businesses alike.”

“And in a further demonstration of the strength of the UK labour market, today’s figures show there are a record three-quarters of a million vacancies.We will build on this throughout the coming year – doubling childcare for working parents and introducing the new National Living Wage – ensuring that everyone has increased financial security and the opportunity to get on and succeed in life.”