More than 75 pct of British workers have jobs, setting new record


More than 75 percent of working aged people in Britain are in jobs, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported Tuesday.

ONS statistics for March, 2018 show 32.34 million people are in work, or 75.6 percent of the working aged population, making it the highest rate since comparable records began in 1971.

At the same time, the number of people recorded as unemployed in March fell by 46,000 compared to the previous quarter and now stands at 1.42 million, a national jobless rate of 4.2 percent, the lowest level since 1975.

The new figures also show that wages have risen at an annual rate of 2.9 percent, compared with a corresponding inflation 2.7 percent.

Senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes said the employment growth was "still being driven by UK nationals, with a slight drop over the past year in the number of foreign workers. It's important to remember, though, that this isn't a measure of migration. Growth in total pay remains in line with inflation, meaning real earnings are flat on the year."

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond welcomed the ONS announcement, but there was criticism from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) which represents millions of workers.

Hammond said: "Growth in real wages means that people are starting to feel the benefit of more money in their pockets; another turning point as we build a stronger, fairer economy."

"The unemployment rate is at its lowest in over 40 years and with our National Living Wage we are making sure that the lowest-paid feel the benefit with an extra 2,000 pounds (2,705 U.S. dollars) a year."

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey said: "Since 2010 we have seen more than 3.2 million people move into work right across the UK. Youth unemployment has fallen by over 40 percent and the unemployment rate has not been lower since 1975. Today's figures once again cement that turnaround, with on average over 1,000 people each and every day since 2010 getting a job."

McVey said the employment gap among black, Asian and minority ethnic people had closed to just 10.1 percent, a decrease of 1.3 percent since 2015 and the lowest the gap has been since the series began in 2001.

However, the TUC said the ONS figures show that real wage growth is still weak at just 0.4 percent.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Working people are still not getting a fair deal. Millions of jobs do not pay a real living wage. And average weekly pay is still worth much less than a decade ago after the longest pay squeeze for 200 years.

"Workers deserve a fairer share of the wealth they create. The government should put the minimum wage up to 10 pounds an hour. Public servants deserve their first proper pay rise for eight years. And unions need new rights to access to workplaces and bargain with employers for fair pay rises." (1 British pound = 1.35 U.S. dollars)