23 January 2019
The number of people in employment in the UK has hit a record high while wage growth is at its greatest for 10 years, according to official data released on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the number of job vacancies rose by 10,000 over the quarter to November to an all-time peak of 853,000, reflecting the skills shortages being reported by many UK business sectors. The figures prompted a call from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) for a post-Brexit immigration system “that helps, rather than hinders” businesses.
The number in work in the three months to November increased by 141,000 people to reach a total of 32.53 million, representing a record employment rate of 75.8 per cent, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
At the same time, annual wage growth, excluding bonuses, increased to 3.3 per cent over the quarter, the highest rate since November 2008 and representing a take-home rise of 1.1 per cent once inflation is taken into account.
David Freeman, head of labour market statistics at the ONS, said, “The number of people working grew again, with the share of the population in work now the highest on record.
“Meanwhile, the share of the workforce looking for work and unable to find it remains at its lowest for over 40 years, helped by a record number of job vacancies.
“Wage growth continues to outpace inflation, which fell back slightly in the latest month.”
The unemployment rate dipped unexpectedly to four per cent from 4.1 per cent, although the number claiming unemployment benefit actually increased marginally by 8,000 to leave the jobless total at 1.37 million.
Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said, “The continued rise in the number of vacancies is further evidence of the growing struggle for firms to hire the staff they need, which is weakening the UK’s growth and productive potential.