Unemployment falls to 10-year low of 1.6m
PUBLISHED: 10:01 17 February 2016 | UPDATED: 10:01 17 February 2016
A record number of people are in work and unemployment has fallen by another 60,000 to its lowest rate for a decade, new figures have shown.
The UK jobless total dipped to 1.69 million in the final quarter of last year, a rate of 5.1%, the lowest since the end of 2005.
Jobless numbers in the East of England fell by 8,000 to stand at 124,000, with an unemployment rate of 3.9%.
More than 31.4 million people in the UK are now in work, the highest since records began in 1971.
The number of people on the claimant count, including Jobseeker’s Allowance, fell by 14,800 last month to 760,200, the lowest since the summer of 1975.
The data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also showed a record 776,000 job vacancies across the economy after a 23,000 increase in the latest quarter.
The number of people classed as economically inactive, including those on long-term sick leave, looking after a relative or who have given up looking for work, continued a downward trend, with an 88,000 quarterly fall to 8.8 million.
The economically inactive rate for women fell to 27.2%, a record low.
Average earnings increased by 1.9% in the year to December, 0.2% down on the previous month.
ONS statistician Nick Palmer said: “While the employment rate continues to hit new highs and there are more job vacancies than ever previously recorded, earnings growth remains subdued and markedly below the recent peak of mid-2015.”
The number of UK nationals in work increased by 278,000 between October and December to 28.28 million, while for non-UK nationals the figure rose by 254,000 to 3.22 million.
The proportion of non-UK nationals in work in this country has increased from 3.8% in 1997 to 10.2%.
There were 9,000 working days lost from 10 industrial disputes in December, one of the lowest on record. The record high for days lost in a month was 11.6 million in September 1979.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “February is another record- breaking month, with the employment rate now at the highest it has ever been and wages continuing to grow.
“At a time when we are seeing the number of workless households at its lowest ever, this is further proof that our economic and welfare reforms are delivering more security and providing opportunities that give families the best chance in life.”
Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: “It is vital we stay the course with our long-term economic plan, to ensure more hard-working families benefit from the country’s growing economy.
“There are now 150,000 more disabled people in work over the past year, which is fantastic news.
“By working to halve the disability employment gap, we want to make sure more people can reap the positive financial and health rewards of employment, and are helped to achieve their ambitions.”
The Government said a number of record-breaking figures were released, including a 70% employment rate for older people, an employment rate of young people who have left full-time education at a 10-year high of 74.7%, more than a million more women in work since 2010 and 150,000 more disabled people in work over the past year.