The UK jobs market has continued to grow with 457,000 more people in work in February compared to last year.
New figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the employment rate has never been higher at 76.1%, while unemployment remains at its lowest rate since the 1970s at 3.9%.
There are over 1.1 million fewer unemployed people than in 2010, with youth unemployment level almost halved in that time.
Employment Minister Alok Sharma welcomed the figures from the ONS which also showed wages outpacing inflation for 13 months in a row, with real wages growing by 1.6% on the year.
Minister of State for Employment Alok Sharma said: “The UK jobs market continues to go from strength to strength, proving the underlying resilience of the British economy. But we must not take this for granted. We need to work urgently to get behind a Brexit deal that protects this jobs record and gives employers the certainty to continue to invest in their workforce and boost wages.
“With more people in work than ever before, it is welcome news that wages are continuing to rise at their fastest rate in a decade. And by increasing the living wage and personal tax allowance for 2019, this government is putting more money in people’s pocket, benefiting millions of families across the country.”
CBI RESPONDS TO LABOUR MARKET STATISTICS
Labour market statistics for December 2018 to February 2019 show employment increased by 179,000 compared with the previous quarter, while unemployment is down by 27,000.
Matthew Percival, CBI Head of Employment, said: “The UK labour market continues to outperform the rest of the economy. It’s also positive that real pay continues to rise faster than it has on average over the last two years.
“Although securing a Brexit extension means we have averted an economic crisis, politicians must now come together and avoid a no deal scenario or risk impacting the UK’s stellar labour market.”
CV-Library’s founder and CEO, Lee Biggins commented: “Today’s figures suggest that the job market remained robust in the run-up to our supposed Brexit from the EU, which is positive news for our economy. That being said, we cannot ignore the fact that ongoing uncertainty means the UK is a much less desirable location for EU migrants to live and work in right now, putting pressure on businesses who are already struggling to find the home-grown talent they need to remain competitive on a global scale.
“Because of this, employers are having to pull out all the stops in order to entice professionals out of their current roles and this is reflected in the 3.4% increase in weekly earnings. Our own data echos this, finding that average page jumped up by 3.1% in January of this year and a staggering 30.2% in February, suggesting that organisations are desperately attempting to attract people to their jobs with the promise of better pay.”
Phil Smith – Managing Director at Business West said: “The strong increase in employment, coupled with another fall in the number of people out of work, suggests that the UK labour market remains in good order.
“However, behind the strong headline figures a number of key challenges remain.
“Businesses are increasingly reporting that persistent hiring difficulties, cost pressures and ongoing uncertainty are dampening recruitment intentions. If this trend is sustained it could well translate into a weakening in UK jobs growth over the next year.
“Pay growth continues to comfortably outstrip price growth, and in real terms is likely to remain in positive territory for some time to come. However, the combination of a sluggish economy, weak productivity and high upfront costs for business is likely to limit the extent of pay rises.
“The record high number of job vacancies is further confirmation of the perennial skills shortages plaguing UK businesses, which continues to hold back business activity and growth.
“To protect the long-term health of the UK labour market, businesses need answers to key questions on how firms will be able to manage their future workforce needs over the next few years. Brexit has distracted government and Westminster for too long, much more must be done at home to address the UK’s chronic skills shortage, including easing the burden of upfront business costs to help firms to hire and train staff.”