Job vacancies at record level as number in work remains at all-time high

Record numbers of people are in work and job vacancies are at their highest level ever, new figures reveal.

Average earnings increased by 3.4% in the year to December, the highest for a decade, outpacing inflation.

Employment increased by 167,000 in the three months to December to 32.6 million, the highest since records began in 1971.

Unemployment fell by 14,000 to 1.36 million, 100,000 lower than a year ago, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The UK’s jobless rate is now 4%, down by 0.3% on a year ago, and the lowest since 1975.

The number of economically inactive people fell by 94,000 in the latest quarter to 8.6 million, a rate of just under 21%, the lowest on record.

Vacancies increased by 16,000 to a record high of 870,000.

ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes said: “The labour market remains robust, with the employment rate remaining at a record high and vacancies reaching a new record level.

“The unemployment rate has also fallen, and for women has dropped below 4% for the first time ever.

“Most of the growth in employment over the past year is among British nationals.”

The ONS reported that the number of overseas nationals in work was still increasing despite a drop in those from the Eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004 because more people from non-EU countries are in work.

There were an estimated 2.27 million EU nationals working in the UK in the latest quarter, 61,000 fewer than a year earlier, while the number of non-EU nationals increased by 130,000 to 1.29 million.

The ONS added that the number of workers employed on zero-hours contracts fell by 57,000 to 844,000.

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