The latest employment figures from the Office for National Statistics, released this morning, show another fall in unemployment and corresponding climb in employment. The number of unemployed people in the UK fell again this month – albeit marginally – from 1,959,000 to 1,958,000. The unemployed population now stands at 6%, down from 7.4% a year ago. Unemployment peaked at 2.7 million in late 2011.
Meanwhile the number of employees in the UK grew slightly from 25,864,000 last month to 25,986,000. Average weekly earnings – which have been lagging behind inflation for some time – grew slightly to £483 from £482 last month. Annually wages (not including bonuses) rose 1.6%, versus the current cost of living rise of 1% – meaning earnings growth outpaced inflation.
The number of self-employed people in the UK appears to have peaked in April this year, when 4.6 million freelancers and contractors were recorded by the ONS. Following a slight decline, the number grew this month to total 4.54 million.
Overall the news appears to be a positive for the UK labour market, with 30.8 million people in work, over half a million more than a year ago.
The news will be welcomed by the Government as a positive end to a difficult year – George Osborne was quick to take a Twitter victory lap after the figures were released.
Major moment in UK recovery with unemployment down, more jobs & wages growing significantly above inflation #LongTermEconomicPlan
— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) December 17, 2014