UK employment hits new high as jobless tally falls

The UK's unemployment rate fell to its lowest in a decade in the quarter to last November, while the total in work hit another new high, official figures showed.

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The jobless total fell by 99,000 to 1.6 million, representing an unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent, a figure unequalled since the three-month period to October 2005. Meanwhile the employment rate reached an unparalleled 74 per cent with 31.3 million in work.Prime Minister David Cameron said, "Unemployment is now below where it was before the recession. We must stick to our plan to keep delivering jobs and security for people."Employment Minister Priti Patel added, "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."ONS statistician David Freeman said, "These results show the labour market continued to strengthen in the autumn."The employment rate, at 74 per cent, was the highest on record, as was that for women, while the rise in the number of people in work – 276,000 on the quarter – was the third highest on record. Real earnings continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace than in mid-2015."In fact, annual growth in regular pay – excluding bonuses – slipped to 1.9 per cent, its lowest level since the three months to February 2015.Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "The latest labour market data are once again pretty strong on the jobs front, but relatively soft on the earnings front."But he pointed out that wage growth on a single-month basis had actually improved in November compared to October and said this could be a sign that the slowdown in pay growth was coming to an end."With the labour market tightening and recruitment difficulties in some sectors, we think it is entirely possible that earnings growth will regain some momentum over the coming months," Mr Archer added.Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary, added, "Rising employment is good news for those seeking new jobs or moving out of unemployment. But the government also needs to do more to address job quality."While wages are still rising, the rate of progress has slowed and the UK is still facing a lost decade on pay. We need a recovery that delivers both higher employment and strong pay growth."For more Re:locate news and features on human resources, click here and for more on the UK, click here

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