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Labour market overview, UK: lowest unemployment rate since 1974.

Here are the main points for March to May 2019 (Office for National Statistics)

  • The UK employment rate was estimated at 76.0%, higher than a year earlier (75.6%); on the quarter, the rate was 0.1 percentage points lower, the first quarterly decrease since June to August 2018.
  • The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.8%; it has not been lower since October to December 1974.
  • The UK economic inactivity rate was estimated at 20.9%, lower than a year earlier (21.0%).
  • Estimated annual growth in average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain increased to 3.4% for total pay (including bonuses) and 3.6% for regular pay (excluding bonuses).
  • In real terms (after adjusting for inflation), total pay is estimated to have increased by 1.4% compared with a year earlier, and regular pay is estimated to have increased by 1.7%.

Analysis of the labour market
Employment

Graph above

UK employment rates (aged 16 to 64 years), seasonally adjusted, January to March 1971 to March to May 2019
Employment rate for women was 72.0%, the joint-highest on record

Source: Office for National Statistics – Labour Force Survey

Employment measures the number of people aged 16 years and over in paid work. The employment rate is the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who are in paid work.

Estimated employment rates for men and women aged from 16 to 64 years have been generally increasing since early 2012. For March to May 2019, the estimated employment rate:

  • for everyone was 76.0%, higher than a year earlier (75.6%); on the quarter, the rate was 0.1 percentage points lower, the first quarterly decrease since June to August 2018
  • for men was 80.2%; slightly higher than a year earlier (80.1%)
  • for women was 72.0%, the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971

The increase in the employment rate for women in recent years is partly because of changes to the State Pension age for women, resulting in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65 years.

Estimates for March to May 2019 show 32.75 million people aged 16 years and over in employment, 354,000 more than for a year earlier. This annual increase of 354,000 was mainly as a result of more people working full time (up 247,000 on the year to reach 24.09 million). Part-time working also showed an increase of 107,000 on the year to reach 8.66 million.

Full Report

The ‘Views’ articles represent the opinion of the authors rather than being the official stated position of OSP Group Ltd. They are published by OSP Group Ltd to stimulate debate around key issues and challenges facing the UK construction industry.