UK unemployment lowest since 1975

Aug 14, 2018


By Lyndsey Hall

Unemployment has fallen to its lowest for more than forty years, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The number of unemployed adults fell by 65,000 to 1.36 million, or just 4%, in the three months to June 2018. The figures also reveal a rise in productivity, but a slowdown in wage growth. Wages, excluding bonuses, grew by just 2.7% in the three months to June, compared with a year ago.

The ONS report also shows that the number of EU nationals working in the UK fell by a record amount, continuing a trend seen since the Brexit vote in 2016. The fall is the largest annual amount since records began in 1997. That contrasted with a rise in the number of non-EU nationals working in the UK to 1.27 million, 74,000 more than last year.

The drop in the unemployment rate came despite a smaller-than-expected 42,000 increase in the number of jobs created over the three-month period.

On productivity, the ONS said output per hour worked was up by 1.5%, the biggest increase since late 2016.

The official figures also showed 104,000 people who had been employed on “zero-hours” contracts left this type of employment, leaving just 780,000 with this as their main source of income. In addition, the number of people aged 16 to 64 who were not working, looking for work or available to work—also known as “economically inactive”—increased by 77,000 from the first quarter of 2018.

The CBI said the size of the UK workforce was shrinking at the same time as vacancies for skills and labour were growing. Matthew Percival, CBI head of employment, said the government needed to guarantee that EU workers could continue to work even in a “no-deal” Brexit scenario.

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