The latest official snapshot of the UK labour market published on Wednesday and covering June to August showed a 79,000 decline in unemployment to 1.77m, taking the jobless rate to 5.4%, the lowest since 2008. The employment rate, at 73.6%, was the highest since records began in 1971.
George Osborne, The Chancellor, said: “It is great news that Britain’s economic plan continues to create jobs and increase pay. We’ve got the highest rate of employment in our history and real terms pay is rising strongly.”
Average pay, including bonuses, increased at an annual rate of 3%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. John Philpott, of the Jobs Economist consultancy, said the improvement in the labour market evident in the latest figures contrasted with the earlier months of 2015, when there was evidence that firms’ appetite for hiring was waning.
“The explanation for the flip in behaviour is unclear, though it’s possible that recruiters were cautious in the first half of the year because of political uncertainty surrounding the general election in May. What is clear is that hiring picked up strongly from June onwards,” he said.
Nick Palmer, an ONS labour market statistician, commenting on the data, said: “Today’s fall in unemployment has more than outstripped the recent rises, leaving unemployment at its lowest level since mid-2008.”