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Unemployment drops significantly in East of England

PUBLISHED: 10:29 14 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:51 14 August 2018

The number of vacancies in the UK job market has reached its highest level on record, according to the Office for National Statistics. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The number of vacancies in the UK job market has reached its highest level on record, according to the Office for National Statistics. Picture: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Archant

The East of England saw one of the largest drops in unemployment of any UK region heading into the summer, according to new figures.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows unemployment fell by almost 20% to 102,000 in the region between April and June, giving an unemployment rate of 3.2% – below the UK average of 4%.

The region’s employment rate was 78.7%, 0.5% higher than the period from January to March, with nearly 3.1 million people in work.

Nationally there were 32.39 million people in work from April to June, 42,000 higher than in the previous three-month period and equal to an employment rate of 75.6%.

Average earnings increased by 2.4% in the year to June, down from 2.5% in the previous month, said the ONS.

There were 829,000 job vacancies from May to July, 51,000 more than in the same period a year earlier and the highest level since comparable records began in 2001.

Senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes said: “The number of people in work has continued to edge ahead, though the employment rate was unchanged on the quarter. However, the number of vacancies is a new record high, while the unemployment rate is now at its lowest since the winter of 1974-75.

“The growth in employment is still being driven by UK nationals, with a noticeable drop over the past year in the number of workers from the so-called ‘A8’ eastern European countries in particular.”

He added that, for the first time since the ONS began tracking zero-hours contracts, it had seen a “substantial” fall in the number of people on one in their main job.

Matthew Percival, CBI head of employment, said: “Continuing job creation shows that flexibility in the labour market is a key strength of the UK economy. However, these figures show that the size of the UK workforce is shrinking at the same time as vacancies for skills and labour grow.

“Shortages are already hampering firms’ ability to compete and create jobs, so it’s vital that the UK pursues an open and controlled post-Brexit immigration policy.

“The government needs to guarantee that EU workers can continue to work even in a ‘no deal’ scenario.”

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