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Record number of people in employment

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
17/08/2016
The number of people in work has increased since the start of the year, bringing the total to the three months to June 2016 to a record high, official statistics reveal.

There were 31.75 million people in employment in the UK between April and June, 172,000 more than for the previous quarter and 606,000 more than the same period last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed.

This number was split between 23.22 million people working full-time (374,000 more than a year earlier), while 8.53 million were recorded as working part-time (231,000 more than in 2015).

Overall, the ONS said the employment rate – those aged 16 to 64 in work – stood at 74.5% which is the highest since comparable records began in 1971.

The figures reveal that the number of unemployed people and those not working or not seeking employment also fell.

There were 1.64 million unemployed people in Q2, 52,000 fewer than for January to March 2016, 207,000 fewer than a year earlier. It’s also the lowest since March to May 2008.

More men were unemployed than woman, 890,000 and 750,000 respectively and overall, the unemployment rate was 4.9%, down from 5.6% for a year earlier. The last time it was lower was between July to September 2005.

Average weekly earnings (not adjusted for inflation) for employees in Britain also increased by 2.4% including bonuses and by 2.3% excluding bonuses compared with a year earlier.

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, said Brexit-related uncertainty was expected to hit employment, and consensus forecasts were for a 9,500 rise in the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits in July.

But as the figure fell by 8,600, it’s a “clear indication that the labour market held up well in the aftermath of the referendum”.

He said: “Today’s unemployment and wage growth numbers from the ONS cover the three months to the end of June, and as such reflect pre-referendum conditions. Nevertheless, signs here are also encouraging, with unemployment remaining at an 11-year low of 4.9% and wage growth ticking up slightly to 2.4% year-on-year.

“The post-referendum reality will gradually become clear over the next few months. The dramatic fall in confidence may not ultimately be borne out by activity, and today’s claimant count number is a tentative sign that things might not turn out as bad as many predicted.”

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