UNEMPLOYMENT has fallen to an eight-year low with a record number of people in work, The Sun reports. In what the Government claims is proof its long-term economic plan is working, the jobless total fell by 99,000 in the three months to November to just 1.6million.
Employment has reached a record 31.3 million, a rate of 74 per cent, increasing by more than half a million over the past year. The number of people claiming benefits also fell – down by 4,300 last month to 785,900, the lowest since March 2008, according to official data from the Office for National Statistics.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Unemployment is now below where it was before the recession. “We must stick to our plan to keep delivering jobs and security for people.” This week’s raft of job losses in the steel industry will not feed into the figures for months. Tata announced more than 1,000 redundancies on Monday, while Sheffield Forgemasters said 100 jobs are set to be cut in a huge blow to the UK steel industry.
Economic inactivity, counting people on long-term sick leave, looking after a relative or who have given up looking for work, fell by 93,000 to just under nine million, the lowest since the spring of 2014. The inactivity rate for women reached a record low of 27 per cent. The record high was 44 per cent in 1971, when most employment records started.
Average earnings increased by 2 per cent in the year to November, down by 0.4 per cent. Other figures showed job vacancies have increased by 13,000 to a record high of 756,000. Employment minister Priti Patel said: “This is a record-breaking set of figures and has got 2016 off to a fantastic start.
“There are now more people in work than ever before and wages are growing – a credit to hard-working Brits and businesses alike. “And in a further demonstration of the strength of the UK labour market, today’s figures show there are a record three-quarters of a million vacancies.”