Record number of people in work – but their pay is still rising slower than inflation

PUBLISHED: 09:57 24 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:35 24 January 2018

Employment is at a record high, the ONS says.  PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Employment is at a record high, the ONS says. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

Strong demand for workers has pushed the number of people in work to a record high – but the real value of pay is continuing to decline, according to new figures.

In the three months to November there were just over 32.2 million people in employment, the highest total since comparable records began in 1971 and an increase of 102,000 on the previous quarter.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the UK employment rate is now at a joint record high of 75.3%.

Job vacancies also hit record levels, up 17,000 to 810,000.

In the East of England the employment rate remains above average at 78.6% – an increase of 1% on the previous quarter – while its full-time workers clocked up the highest average number of hours worked per week, at 38.4.

Unemployment in the region was down by 3,000 to 119,000.

In Norfolk and Waveney the claimant count – which includes people on jobseekers’ allowance and universal credit – increased by 195 in December to 10,060.

Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk saw falls in the number of claimants, while Great Yarmouth and Waveney saw the biggest rises. However, the ONS has said these figures will be artificially inflated by the roll-out of universal credit.

Nationally the claimant count increased by 8,600 last month to 832,500.

Average earnings increased by 2.5% in the year to November, unchanged from the previous month, although pay is still growing at less the rate of inflation.

ONS statistician David Freeman said: “With the employment rate returning to a joint record high and the number of vacancies setting a new record, demand for workers clearly remains strong.

Moreover, economic inactivity is at its lowest since the winter of 2000-01.

“Nevertheless, inflation remains higher than pay growth and so the real value of earnings continues to decline.”

The rise in employment has been driven by full-time jobs, with the number of self-employed falling by 82,000 in the latest quarter to 4.77 million, the biggest cut since 2004.

Economic inactivity has fallen by 167,000 over the past year, with a big fall among the long termsick.

- The number one single in the charts the last time economic inactivity was so low was Bob The Builder.

- The ONS cautioned that the claimant count may be providing a misleading representation of changes in the labour market because of the impact of the roll-out of Universal Credit.

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