UK Unemployment Falls to 45-Year Low

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The United Kingdom’s unemployment rate has fallen to a 45-year low, according to a report released Tuesday.

Figures from December to February, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that unemployment fell by 27,000 over the 3 month period, dropping to a low of 1.34 million — the lowest unemployment rate since 1974.

The employment rate meanwhile was the joint-highest on record, at 76.1 per cent, up from the previous year’s employment rate of 75.4 per cent. At the same time, the economic inactivity rate — a measure of those not in employment but who are not considered unemployed because they have not been looking for work for four weeks or are unable to start work in the next two weeks — was just 20.7 per cent, which is the joint lowest figure on record.

Employment was not the only area performing strongly, however. Wage growth was 3.5 per cent in the three months to February compared to a year earlier. While an ONS report released on March 20th revealed an inflation rate of just 1.8 per cent, meaning that wages continue to outstrip price rises.

The best news came for those in low-paid occupations, who saw the largest proportional rise in wages. There was also a drop in the number of people described as being ‘low-paid’. Low-paid in this context is described as being two-thirds of the median hourly wage. This would mean anyone earning £8.52 an hour or below was described as low-paid.

According to the ONS, “In 2018, 17.8% of all employee jobs are low-paid, when considered in terms of hourly earnings. This is the lowest proportion of low-paid employee jobs by hourly pay since the series began in 1997, which coincides with recent increases in the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates.”

The ONS figures show that the median full-time weekly wage was now £569. This was up from £550 in 2017, and up by £90 from 10 years ago.

The strong employment and wage figures come as the UK has been voted the best place to invest in a recent survey. The report, conducted by accounting and consultancy firm EY, surveyed 2,900 senior executives across 49 countries. It showed that for the first time since the report began a decade ago, the UK was voted top for investment prospects, overtaking the United States which had held the top spot for the last five years.

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