Productivity falls in first quarter despite rising employment

PUBLISHED: 10:37 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:57 17 May 2017

Jobcentre Plus on Pottergate, Norwich/ Picture: James Bass
For: EDP News
Evening News © 2009  (01603) 772434

Jobcentre Plus on Pottergate, Norwich/ Picture: James Bass For: EDP News Evening News © 2009 (01603) 772434

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2009

UK productivity fell in the first quarter of 2017 despite the number of people in work reaching a new record high.

According to a flash estimate from the Office for National Statistics, output per hour – the body’s main measure of productivity – fell by 0.5% between January and March 2017, compared with a 0.4% rise from October to December 2016.

This was partly due to an increase in total hours worked across the larger employed population, with the average weekly hours rising slightly to 32.2.

Labour market statistics also released today show the number of people in work in the UK rose by 0.2% in the same period to 74.8%, the highest level since comparable records began in 1971, meaning 31.95 million people are now in employment. Unemployment fell by 0.2% to 1.54 million.

In Norfolk, Fenland and Waveney, the number of people on employment-related benefits (jobseekers’ allowance (JSA) and universal credit) from January to March was 11,475, down from 11,500 in the three months to February.

It is higher than the 9,210 claimants recorded a year previously, but the ONS had said the increases relate to the introduction of universal credit, which allows people to continue claiming benefits while working up to 16 hours a week.

Across the East of England the claimant count was also higher at 48,465 compared with 47,347 in the three months to February.

A Department for Work and Penions spokesperson said: “Today’s figures show that across the UK there are a record 31.95 million people now in work – 381,000 more than this time last year.

“Unemployment has fallen by 53,000 on the quarter and the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in more than 40 years at 4.6%.

“Approximately 3.03 million people are employed in the East of England.”

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