Unemployment rate falls to lowest since 2005

Official figures released today show that the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.7% – the lowest level in 12 years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that employment continues to run at a record high rate of 74.6%, with 31.85 million people in work – an increase of 315,000 on the year and more than 2.8 million since 2010.

The rise in employment continues to be driven by full-time work. Meanwhile, average weekly wages grew by 2.2% over the last year.

Minister for Employment, Damian Hinds said:

"I’m delighted by another set of record-breaking figures showing more people in work than ever before and unemployment falling to its lowest in 12 years.

"Employment is up, wages are up and there are more people working full time. This is good news for hardworking families across the UK as we continue to build a country that works for everyone.

"But we have more to do, which is why we’re pressing ahead with our welfare reforms to ensure that it always pays to be in work."

Today’s figures also show:

• there are 1.58 million unemployed people, 106,000 fewer than this time last year
• the proportion of 16 to 24 year olds who have left full-time education and are unemployed is 5.1%
• long-term unemployment is at 393,000 – the lowest since before the 2008 recession
• there are around 760,000 vacancies in the economy at any one time

Separate figures out today show more than one million claims have been made to Universal Credit. Of the 410,000 households now receiving Universal Credit, around two-thirds are in work.

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

The claimant count

Estimates of the claimant count are no longer included in the ONS statistical bulletin as they may now be providing a misleading representation of the UK labour market. ONS released a statement explaining the decision about the claimant count on 23 February 2017.