Official figures released show that the unemployment rate remains at a near-record low of 4.4%, with the employment rate at a near-record high of 75.2%.
Today’s figures also show that groups across society are accessing new job opportunities. The figures reveal that nearly 500,000 more people from a black and minority ethnic background (BAME) have started working since 2015 and that the gender employment rate gap is at a near-record low at 8.9%.
They also show that every region across the UK has seen employment increase since 2010 with youth unemployment falling by over 40% since 2010.
Minister for Employment Alok Sharma said:
High employment rates are a reliable feature of today’s economy – and this is an incredible achievement. It is equally important that across society everyone has the opportunity to get a good job and get on in life.
Today’s figures show that this government is building a fairer economy that supports people from all backgrounds to get into work. We are closing the BAME and gender employment gaps, and people across the country are accessing new opportunities.
Separate figures out today showed that 730,000 people are now on Universal Credit. Of these, 40% were in employment (290,000).
However, the report, based on data from October-December 2017, shows that real wage growth is still falling. Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) director of policy Tom Hadley comments:
“As inflation is still outstripping pay growth the increase in volume of jobseekers could be a result of households struggling financially and more people are going out to look for work.
“The feedback from recruiters is that one of the overriding challenges remains finding the right candidates for the available vacancies. The fact that more people are now seeking work could help this situation. However, the biggest issue is the skills mismatch the country is facing and the new jobseekers might not necessarily have what employers are looking for.
“Our own data shows that businesses are offering higher starting salaries for new hires which demonstrates what they are prepared to do to find the talent they need. Another specific way to address skills shortages is for government to broaden the Apprenticeship Levy so the whole workforce including agency workers can benefit from training.”