Number of UK People in Work at Highest Ever Level, Wages Rising

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The number of people in the United Kingdom who are working has risen to historic highs in absolute terms, while the linked statistic of unemployment has also fallen to a low not seen in decades.

The new release of government figures relate to the period between November 2018 and January 2019, and show that in the United Kingdom, 76.1 per cent of people ages 16-64 were in work, a total of 32.7 million people. This was a one year rise of 473,000 people in work.

Unemployment consequently also fell to 3.9 per cent, the lowest it has been in the UK since 1975. Wages are also rising, up one and a half per cent after inflation was taken into account.

The government hailed the strong jobs numbers, citing “pro-business policies” for delivering “record employment”. The falling number of people on zero-hour contracts and comment by Office of National Statistics analysts that it is not this controversial kind of work driving growth will also boost the government, which has been attacked by the Labour party for driving hollow growth for many years.

While many have reported that today’s labour rate figures are the lowest since 1971, this only tells half the story as this is the earliest date the government’s statistics office keeps detailed records for. Historic figures are also available from the National Archives, however, and show unemployment was much lower in the decades before.

Unemployment fell as low as 1.2 per cent in 1955, for instance, significantly lower than today’s figure.

Historically, the only time in modern British history where unemployment has been lower has been during the wars, when military conscription and war materiel production work pushed unemployment to nearly zero.

The new figures have been leapt upon from all directions in the Brexit debate, as actors on all sides of the debate worked to shore up their positions. A government spokesman said the figures proved why it was important for parliament to support Theresa May’s Brexit deal citing “certainty”, while a BBC economics correspondent cautioned against optimism, warning that it was possible Brexit had created some jobs.

Taking to the micro-blogging platform Twitter, the theoretically impartial BBC’s correspondent Dharshini David also noted that the good jobs figures could be accounted for hiring decisions tending to lag a “couple quarters” behind big decisions. This was apparently despite Britain’s vote to leave the European Union now having taken place almost 33 months, roughly 11 fiscal quarters ago.

The steadfastly anti-Brexit Guardian newspaper, meanwhile, reported the good economic news was “despite Brexit”.

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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