Employment hits highest rate since records began

The employment rate is at a record 74.6% – the highest employment rate since records began in 1971.

Official figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show that there are over 300,000 more people in work compared to the same time last year, and the number of women in work has risen to a record rate of 70.0%.

The latest statistics also show that unemployment continues to run at an 11-year low of just 4.8%, down by more than 900,000 since 2010.

Secretary of State, Damian Green said:

"With employment at its highest rate since records began, and unemployment at its lowest in over a decade, we remain in a position of strength.

"Our on-going welfare reforms will continue to incentivise work and make sure the system is fair to all those who need it and those who pay for it.

"With youth unemployment down, women in work at record levels and number of disabled people in work increasing too, we’re delivering on our pledge to build a country that works for everyone."

Full-time work continues to drive the increase in employment, rising by 218,000 workers on the year, meaning that more people have the security of a regular wage.

Average wages including bonuses grew by 2.6% over the last year, and the number of people claiming benefits (claimant count) fell by 42,000 on the quarter to 2.1% – the lowest rate since 1974.

Today’s figures also show:

• youth unemployment is at 12.6% – the lowest level since 2005
• the number of disabled people in work has increased by 594,000 in the past 3 years

Read the Labour Market Statistics – February 2017 from the Office for National Statistics.

Universal Credit

A separate set of figures out today show more than 960,000 claims have been made to Universal Credit. Of the 450,000 people now receiving Universal Credit, around 40% are in work.

The roll out of the full service Universal Credit over the coming months means that the claimant count may be volatile from month to month potentially affecting the seasonal adjustment of the data from the Office for National Statistics.