The UK unemployment rate has fallen to a seven-year low of 5.3% in the three months to September, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. The ONS said this was the lowest jobless rate since the second quarter of 2008. The number of people out of work fell by 103,000 between July and September to 1.75m. There were 31.21m people in work, 177,000 more than for the April-to-June quarter and 419,000 more than in the same period a year earlier.
ONS statistician Nick Palmer said: “These figures continue the recent strengthening trend in the labour market, with a new record high in the employment rate and the unemployment rate still at its lowest level since spring 2008.” The ONS also said the total earnings of workers, including bonuses, in the three months to September were up 3% from a year earlier, the same rate as in the three months to August.
In September, total wages rose by 2.0%, down from 3.2% the previous month and the weakest increase since February. Excluding bonuses, average weekly earnings growth slowed to 2.5% in the third quarter and 1.9% in September, both the weakest since the first quarter of 2015.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at research firm Markit, said: “The UK labour market continued to tighten in September, as unemployment fell more than expected and employment rose sharply. Pay growth remained surprisingly weak, however, despite further evidence of growing skill shortages, which normally leads to higher salaries.
“Pay growth remains central to policymaking, and interest rates are likely to stay on hold for as the official data show pay growth remaining subdued. Today’s data therefore support the Bank’s current projections that there will be no need to raise interest rates until 2017 due to persistent low inflation.”