Workforce numbers at near record levels as fewer women retire

The number of people in work continues to reach near record levels as fewer women retire between the ages of 60 and 65, although vacancies fell back in recent months, new figures reveal.

Employment jumped by 99,000 in the three months to March, to 32.7 million, the third highest total since records began in 1971.

Unemployment fell by 65,000 to 1.3 million, continuing a general trend which started in early 2012.

The UK’s unemployment rate of 3.8% is now lower than at any time since the end of 1974, reported the Office for National Statistics.

Average earnings increased by 3.2% in the year to February, compared with 3.5% on the previous month.

There was a 98,000 increase in the number of EU nationals working in the UK in the first quarter of the year to a record high of 2.38 million.

Since the EU referendum in June 2016, the number of EU nationals working in this country has increased by 237,000.

Other figures showed that the number of economically inactive people in the UK fell by 23,000 in the latest quarter to 8.6 million, a rate of just under 21%, one of the lowest on record.

The number of vacancies fell by 16,000 to 846,000.

The UK’s employment rate of 76% is at a joint record high, while for women it has reached the highest on record at 71%.

The increase is partly due to changes in the state pension age for women, resulting in fewer retiring between the ages of 60 and 65, the ONS said.

The number of people in work has increased by 354,000 over the past year, entirely due to full-time employment.

Part-time working fell by 18,000 to 8.5 million, while self-employment increased by 180,000 to just under five million.

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