Women lead the way with joblessness at 44-year low

The Square Mile- London's Financial District

The Square Mile- London's Financial District

While the fall in the number of unemployed has slowed, employment continues to grow strongly with the number of people in work in the three months to December up 2.3% year-on-year, the CSO said.

The latest unemployment figures in the East of England are down to 91,000 which, at just 2.8% of the workforce, is the lowest rate in the UK.

Total employment for the three months to December climbed 167,000 from the previous quarter to 32.6 million, the highest since records began in 1971.

ONS said productivity edged up 0.2 per cent on the previous quarter but said quarter-on-previous-quarter comparisons were more volatile and less representative of long term trends.

Monthly unemployment rates have been subject to these kinds of revisions in recent quarters and today's change means the jobless rate has remained steady at 5.7% for the last six months.

The unemployment rate was estimated at 4.0% during the period, it has not been lower since December 1974 to February 1975.

ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes said: "The labour market remains robust, with the employment rate remaining at a record high and vacancies reaching a new record level".

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145,000 more disabled people found work since last year, an overall increase of 930,000 in the last five years while more women are in the workplace than ever before, 15.31 million.

"While the global economy is facing many challenges, particularly in sectors like manufacturing, these figures show the underlying resilience of our jobs market - once again delivering record employment levels".

"With surplus labour extremely scarce and job vacancies rising to a new record high, workers are having more success in obtaining above-inflation pay increases", said economist Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

'It's also excellent news that we see the rate of women in employment at a record high.

The ONS reported that the number of overseas nationals in work was still increasing despite a drop in those from the Eastern European countries which joined the EU in 2004 because more people from non-EU countries are in work.

The UK suffered a "disappointing" fall in productivity at the end of past year as GDP slowed, rounding off a sluggish 2018.

Workers were also more likely to be on a zero hours contract or in low-paid self-employment than they were before the financial crisis a decade ago, he added.

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