Employment remains at top levels as more women stay in work

Employment remains at an all-time high in the UK, as the rate for women hit a fresh record, new figures reveal.

Employment was up by 32,000 in the three months to April, to 32.7 million

The overall employment rate of 76.1% was the joint highest total since records began in 1971.

Unemployment fell by 34,000 to 1.3 million, continuing a general trend which started in early 2012.

The UK’s unemployment rate of 3.8% remains the joint lowest level since the end of 1974, reported the Office for National Statistics.

Average earnings increased by 3.1% compared to the same period a year ago. This was slower than a 3.3% rise last month.

The employment rate for women was the highest on record at 72%, following changes to the state pension age which have resulted in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.

Economic inactivity, the ONS’s measure of people with no job who are not actively seeking one, also fell to a record low among women of 25.2%.

Matt Hughes, deputy head of labour market statistics at the ONS, said: “With employment growth among women coming from full-timers, the overall gap between men and women in hours worked is now the lowest ever – women now average about three-quarters of men’s weekly hours, compared with around two-thirds 25 years ago.”

The number of job vacancies for March to May 2019 was 837,000, which was 11,000 more than a year earlier but 12,000 fewer than for the three months to February 2019.

The ONS said the number of vacancies had generally been increasing since 2012, but has been falling since early 2019.

Mr Hughes said: “Overall, the labour market continues to be strong, with employment still at a joint record rate.

“However, while the number of vacancies remains high, it has fallen back slightly from the historic highs seen at the turn of the year.”

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