UK employment rate hits record high

22 January 2020

Unemployment is at its lowest since 1974, according to government figures.

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The thriving UK jobs market means the country has hit a record high employment rate at 76.3%, with the unemployment rate not lower since 1974. Wage growth has outpaced inflation for the 22nd consecutive month.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that all regions in the UK have benefited from an upturn in employment since 2010. In the North West the number in work has climbed to a record high of 3.55 million.

The DWP says women have benefitted the most from the thriving UK jobs market – with 317,000 more entering work in the past year alone.

Ministers also claim the figures show an uplift in people taking up quality careers offering real progression – with 3.1 million more people in higher skilled work since 2010.

Mims Davies, minister for employment, says: “These figures show not only more people in work than ever before, but it’s also pleasing to see alongside this a rise in those working in higher skilled roles. It means at the dawn of the decade the opportunities to progress in work are out there, with people already benefiting from another month of rising wages.

“This, coupled with business confidence turning a corner, is paving the way for an even stronger jobs market in 2020.

“And with unemployment at its lowest since the 1970s, our jobcentres go beyond getting people into work – they are about community and progression. Reaching out to more people, and supporting those in work to get ahead.”

However, the figures also show a rise in so-called “zero hours” contracts – where workers are not guaranteed a minimum number of hours each week. Between 2013 and 2019, the proportion of workers on zero hours contracts in total employment increased by 0.8 percentage points to 2.7%.

The latest data for the period April to June 2019 show that there were 896,000 workers on zero hours contracts with more women (483,000) than men (413,000) on this type of employment contract.

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