26 Feb UK Employment record high
The number of people in work in the UK has continued to climb, with a Uk employment record of 32.6 million employed between October and December, the latest Office for National Statistics figures show.
- Unemployment was little-changed in the three-month period at 1.36 million.
- The jobless rate, remaining at 4%, is at its lowest since early 1975.
- Weekly average earnings went up by 3.4% to £494.50 in the year to December – after adjusting for inflation, that is the highest level since March 2011.
- The number of people in work between October and December was up 167,000 from the previous quarter and 444,000 higher than at the same time in 2017.
Employment rates highest since 1971
The employment rate – defined as the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who are working – was estimated at 75.8%, higher than the 75.2% from a year earlier and the joint-highest figure since comparable estimates began in 1971.
The jobs market remains in a robust shape despite the loss of momentum in the economy towards the end of last year – although the Brexit fog effect may be yet to register.
Continuing recent trends, the majority of those entering work were previously inactive (students, looking after home, long-term sick etc).
The demand for labour continues to bolster wage growth.
Real wages increased by more than 1% per year, better on the whole than in recent years although about half the rate of the pre-crisis era. Little sign of Brexit uncertainty hitting hiring so far – but demand in the labour market tends to lag significantly behind changes in output.
More recent employment surveys show a marked deterioration in January, so a Brexit effect might start to weaken employment growth in the next batch of official data.
Productivity – output per hour – was down by 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018 versus a year previously, as output rose more slowly than employment. The lack of progress in this area could weigh on wage growth in the longer term.
It is predicted that wage growth will slip below 3% this year despite the wage increases and low unemployment figures. Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chamber of Commerce, said:
The increase in the number of vacancies to a new record high confirms that labour and skills shortages are set to remain a significant a drag on business activity for some time to come, impeding UK growth and productivity.”
On a positive note, businesses’ hiring intentions show a net balance of 12% of businesses in the Thames Valley region are expecting to hire more staff during the next year, up five points on last month.
In 2018 the Thames Valley continued to attract investment and has a vibrant economy with some of the best commercial ties with the rest of the world. This is set to continue. It is hoped that the underlying strength of the Thames Valley economy, and the businesses that operate here, will mean continued investment and job creation in 2019.
If you are a Thames Valley business and want commercial property advice please contact our agency team here or call us on:
01344 311344 or 01628 439006.
01344 311344 or 01628 439006.
Contributor: Susie Page