The number of people in work has reached a new record high of 32.2million people as wages close in on inflation for the first time in a year.
Earnings grew by 2.6 per cent – almost the same as the latest inflation rate of 2.7 per cent. The figure means wage growth may soon match price rises for the first time since January 2017.
The latest labour market survey revealed 24,000 more people were out of work in February but the unemployment rate is still lower than a year ago and the joint-lowest figure since 1975.
Renewed growth in the jobs market comes after several months of more sluggish performance and the Government will be encouraged to see a positive figure.
The number of people in work has reached a new record high of 32.2million people as wages close in on inflation for the first time in a year
Earnings grew by 2.6 per cent – almost the same as the latest inflation rate of 2.7 per cent. The figure means wage growth may soon match price rises for the first time since January 2017
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey said: ‘Getting a job means securing an income for a family and the chance to build a better future.
‘That’s why up and down the country we are doing all we can to help people into work.
‘And from next month, we’ll be taking thousands more people out of paying tax and also increasing the national living wage, benefiting those on the lowest pay and making sure they keep more of what they earn.
‘In fact, by raising the national living wage, we have ensured that the lowest earners have seen their wages grow by almost 7 per cent above inflation since 2015.’
Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood said: ‘Many people are struggling with low pay and insecure work and the rise in unemployment is further bad news.
Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey (pictured in Downing Street last week) welcomed the figures
‘With eight million people in working households living in poverty and the cost of basic essentials remaining high, the Spring Statement was a missed opportunity for the Government to take the urgent action needed.
‘The Government has also failed to close the employment gap faced by women, disabled people and BAME groups, who have too often borne the brunt of austerity cuts.’
Stephen Clarke, Senior Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: ‘Britain’s 12-month pay squeeze has finally ended, though public sector workers will have to wait until new pay settlements are agreed across the NHS, schools, the police and other parts of the public sector.
‘While it’s a relief that pay packets are no longer shrinking, the outlook for anemic pay growth remains a huge living standards concern.
‘Average pay is still lower than it was a decade ago, and an entire generation of young workers are still yet to experience the 3-4 per cent pay rises that were once the norm.’
The latest labour market survey revealed 24,000 more people were out of work in February but the unemployment rate is still lower than a year ago and the joint-lowest figure since 1975
ONS statistician Matt Hughes said: ‘Employment and unemployment levels were both up on the quarter, with the employment rate returning to its joint highest ever.
‘Economically inactive people, those who are neither working nor looking for a job, fell by their largest amount in almost five-and-a- half years.
‘Total earnings growth continues to nudge upwards in cash terms. However, earnings are still failing to outpace inflation.’
The number of self-employed workers fell for the second successive quarter – down by 27,000 to 4.78 million.
There were 5.35 million people employed in the public sector at the end of last year, down by 132,000 from September, entirely caused by the transfer of English housing association employees to the private sector.
Public sector employment accounted for 16.6 per cent of all people in work, the lowest since records began in 1999.