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Employment rate at highest level since the 1970s

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The UK’s employment rate has hit a new high of 76.1% as more women join the workforce.

This is a rise from 75,4% a year ago and the highest level since 1971.

Fewer women have been classed as ‘economically inactive’, with the number of women looking after the family or home dropping by 271,000 over the past five years.

The number of women in the workplace has also been given a boost by changes to the State Pension age for women, which has seen many hold off on retirement.

The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.9%; it has not been lower since November 1974 to January 1975.Wages continue to rise at their fastest pace in a decade, with pay including bonuses rising by 3.5% per year in the last quarter, the same as a month ago. That’s well ahead of inflation, which currently sits at 1.8%.

Ed Monk associate director for Personal Investing at Fidelity International, said: “Slowly but surely UK workers are becoming better off…For households, wage data is only half the story. Tomorrow we get inflation data that will tell us how much this pay rise really means. CPI growth was 1.8% at the last reading, confirming that pay is now rising well ahead of costs, but a decade of lost wage growth means it may be a while before households feel like they’re getting any richer.

“The state of the UK economy now kind of depends whether you’re a half full or half empty sort of person. Looking on the bright side, it’s a comfort that the pressure on households is easing. On the other hand we know that growth is under pressure and a fall in foreign investment since the Brexit is storing up problems for the future.”

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