Official figures show that UK unemployment fell by 7,000 to 1.6 million in the three months to December. “It meant that the jobless rate held steady at an 11-year low of 4.8%” said the Office for National Statistics.
The employment rate edged higher to 74.6% – a record high – whilst wage growth also picked up pace. Average earnings, both including & excluding bonuses, rose 2.6% compared with a year ago, outpacing the current rate of inflation. “Continued moderate growth in employment has led to a new high in the total employment rate, while the rate for women has reached 70% for the first time on record,” said ONS senior statistician David Freeman. “Overall, the labour market appears to be edging towards full capacity.”
Other figures showed that the number of non-UK nationals working in the UK increased by 233,000 to 3.48 million compared with the same period a year ago. There was a small rise in the number of workers born outside the European Union, but a small drop in the number of workers born in other EU countries. Mr Freeman said those figures “should be treated with caution”, however, because they were not adjusted for seasonal changes.