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Surge in full-time jobs and self-employment sees record 32.7m in work

Employment jumped by 179,000 in the three months to February, the Office for National Statistics said.

Unemployment fell by 27,000 in the three months to February to 1.34 million, official figures showed (Philip Toscano/PA)
Unemployment fell by 27,000 in the three months to February to 1.34 million, official figures showed (Philip Toscano/PA)

Record numbers of people are in work after a big increase in full-time jobs and self-employment over the past year, new figures reveal.

Employment jumped by 179,000 in the three months to February, to 32.7 million, the highest total since records began in 1971.

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(PA Graphics)

The figure has increased by 457,000 over the past year, all among full-time employees and the self-employed, while the number of people in part-time jobs fell by 15,000, said the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment fell by 27,000 to 1.34 million, continuing a general trend which started in early 2012.

The UK’s unemployment rate of 3.9% is now lower than at any time since the end of 1975.

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(PA Graphics)

Average earnings increased by 3.5% in the year to February, no change on the previous month, but still outpacing inflation.

When adjusted for inflation, pay, including bonuses, increased by 1.6% on the year, the highest figure since the summer of 2016.

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(PA Graphics)

The number of economically inactive people fell by 114,000 in the latest quarter to 8.53 million, a rate of just under 21%, the joint lowest on record.

The number of vacancies is unchanged at 852,000.

ONS deputy head of labour market statistics Matt Hughes said: “The jobs market remains robust, with the number of people in work continuing to grow.

“The increase over the past year is all coming from full-timers, both employees and the self-employed.

“Earnings have now been growing ahead of inflation for over a year, but in real terms, wage levels have not yet returned to their pre-downturn peak.”

Total pay, including bonuses, now averages £494 a week, compared with £525 in February 2008, the year of the economic crash.

Employment Minister 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.”

PA

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