British employment reaches record high

The level of people in employment in the UK reached a new record high in the first quarter of the year, as unemployment hit its lowest since 1975.

Unemployment in the UK fell to 4.6% in the first quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The total proportion of people employed in the UK (known as the employment rate), reached a record 74.8% during the same period, with the number of job vacancies in the three months to April also reaching a new record of 777,000.

In the three months to February, the employment rate for people was 74.6%, the previous joint highest since comparable records began in 1971.

Economists had not expected a further fall in the unemployment rate. Unemployment had previously remained at 4.7% since January, when it reached a low level not seen since 2005.

However, average weekly earnings only grew by 2.1% year-on-year, slightly slower than the 2.2% rate seen in February.


The government will say that the changes they have made to employment law in the last few years has played its part in increasing the employment rates within the UK. However, there is much argument over how genuine the figures are, as they do not show how many hours a week people are working and therefore whether the total hours worked has, in fact, increased.

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