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UK unemployment falls to near-45 year low

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Unemployment in the UK fell to it lowest level in nearly 45 years in the three months to October, official figures show.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said an estimated 1.28 million people were unemployed during the period, 93,000 fewer than a year earlier and 673,000 fewer than five years ago.

The unemployment rate was 3.8%, 0.3 percentage points lower than a year earlier.

The employment rate reached a record high of 76.2%, with 32.8 million people aged 16 and over in employment, 309,000 more than a year ago and a 24,000 increase on the quarter.

David Freeman, head of labour market at the ONS, said: “While the estimate of the employment rate nudged up in the most recent quarter, the longer-term picture has seen it broadly flat over the last few quarters. However, unemployment among women has reached a new record low.”

Vacancies fell for the tenth consecutive month to 794,000, the first time the number has fallen below 800,000 in two years.

The ONS figures also showed wage growth slowed to 3.2% for total pay (including bonuses) and 3.5% for regular pay (excluding bonuses).

In real terms after adjusting for inflation, annual growth in total pay was 1.5%, and 1.8% for regular pay.

Freeman said: “Pay is still increasing in real terms, but its growth rate has slowed in the last few months.”

For October, average regular pay was £472 per week, which is still £1 (0.2%) lower than the pre-recession peak of £473 per week for April 2008.

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