Unemployment fell by 34,000 to 1.3 million in the three months to April, while real wage growth remained flat, official data shows. Despite political uncertainty around Brexit, UK businesses continued to add jobs in the latest quarter, keeping the unemployment rate at 3.8 per cent – its lowest since October and December 1974. However, the Office for National Statistics said that uncertainty may be helping to keep wages down. Average earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by 3.4 per cent between February and April compared to the same period a year ago, up from 3.3 per cent last month.
When adjusted for inflation, average basic wages were up 1.5 per cent compared to a year earlier. The same annual figure was recorded last month. Including bonuses, real annual pay growth slowed to 1.2 per cent, down from 1.4 per cent last month. The overall employment rate improved from 75.6 per cent to 76.1 per cent – the joint highest total since records began in 1971.
The record employment rate was driven by a continued expansion of the number of women in work, partly due to changes to the state pension age which have resulted in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65
“”Overall, the labour market continues to be strong, with employment still at a joint record rate. “”However, while the number of vacancies remains high, it has fallen back slightly from the historic highs seen at the turn of the year. “”Recent surveys have pointed to more companies adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach on employment.
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