Employment rate remains high amid record numbers of job vacancies
- Credit: Evening News � 2009
The number of job vacancies in the UK has reached its highest level in more than 15 years while the employment rate continues on its upward trajectory, new statistics show.
According to the latest labour market figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the employment rate for people aged 16 to 64 now stands at 74.6%, the joint highest level since comparable records began.
In the three months to February there were 31.84m people in work, 312,000 more than a year earlier.
In the East of England, a near record 3.03m people were in work and the unemployment rate dropped by 0.3% to 4.3% in the three-month period – well below the national rate of 4.7%.
Minister for Employment, Damian Hinds, said the figures were 'good news' for the region.
There was also a record-breaking number of job vacancies for January to March 2017. The total of 767,000 vacancies was the highest number since comparable records began in 2001 and 16,000 more than in the preceding three-month period.
Unemployment has decreased by 141,000 since the same period a year earlier to 1.56m, while the number of people classed as economically inactive is also down to 8.88m, 10,000 fewer than for September to November 2016.
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The number of EU nationals working in the UK stood at 2.24m from October to December 2016 – up 194,000 on the same period the previous year, despite concerns over Brexit.
Latest estimates also an increase in average weekly earnings in Great Britain in the year to February – up 0.1% in real terms (after adjustment for price inflation and excluding bonuses).
ONS senior statistician David Freeman said: 'A joint record employment rate and a new record high for the number of vacancies point to continued strength in the labour market. However, higher inflation, coupled with subdued earnings increases, means that the real growth rate in pay has tailed off to just above zero.'