The latest jobs data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the UK unemployment rate has fallen to 4.6%, its lowest in 42 years.
The number of people unemployed fell by 53,000 to 1.54m in the three months to March, the ONS said, while average weekly earnings excluding bonuses increased by 2.1%. On Tuesday, figures showed inflation hit 2.7% in April, up from 2.3%, its highest since September 2013. The jobless rate has not been lower since the June to August period of 1975. The employment rate, the proportion of 16 to 64 year olds in work, was 74.8%, the highest since records began in 1971.
“Theresa May will be pleased to see unemployment drop to its lowest rate since 1975, which echoes her rallying calls for ‘strength and stability’ during the unpredictable economic climate that comes with Brexit negotiations,” said Dennis de Jong, managing director at UFX.com.
“However, alarm bells will be ringing for Britons with wages continuing to fall. This could cause a headache for the government over the standard of living in post-Brexit Britain in the run up to next month’s general election,” he added.
Between January and March, the number of 16 to 64 year old women in jobs was 70.2%, also the highest rate since records began. Meanwhile 79.5% of 16 to 64 year old men were in work, the highest since 1991. The ONS attributed the rise in the rate of women’s employment, in part, to changes to the State Pension age for women, which has meant fewer women retiring between 60 and 65.
The unemployment rate among 16 to 24 year olds was 12.5%, down from 13.7% in January to March of last year. “The unemployment rate for those aged from 16 to 24 has been consistently higher than that for older age groups,” said the ONS.
The number of UK nationals working in the UK increased by 179,000 compared with January to March of last year to stand at 28.31m. The number of non-UK nationals working in the UK increased by 207,000 to a record 3.55m, meaning 11.1% of all people working in the UK are non-UK nationals.