Unemployment in Britain has fallen to the lowest level since the summer of 2008 when the financial crash hit.
New figures today showed the number of people out of work dropped by 79,000 to 1.7 million in the three months to August, giving a jobless rate of just 5.4 per cent.
The number of people with a job jumped by 140,000 in the same three months to 31 million, the highest since records began in 1971.
Latest figures also show total pay increased by 3 per cent in a year, a major boost for family incomes when the cost of living is barely rising.
The Office for National Statistics said the fall in unemployment more than outstripped recent rises.
But the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance and the unemployment element of Universal Credit – the so-called claimant count – increased last month by 4,600 to 796,200.
Average earnings increased by 3 per cent in the year to August, 0.1 per cent up on the previous month and the highest since May.
ONS labour market statistician Nick Palmer said: ‘Wages continue to grow strongly in real terms.’
The figure, which includes those taking early retirement, looking after a relative or ‘discouraged’, has only fallen by 13,000 in the past year.
There were 1.2 million people in part-time jobs who wanted full-time work, down by 9,000.
The number of job vacancies in the economy increased by 4,000 over the latest quarter to 738,000.
Chancellor George Osborne said: ‘It is great news that Britain’s economic plan continues to create jobs and increase pay. We’ve got the highest rate of employment in our history, and real terms pay rising strongly.
‘But with recent data showing our trading partners’ growth is slowing we must not be complacent. All of this progress will be at risk unless we carry on with our plan to build a resilient economy, delivering the economic security of a country that lives within its means.’
Long-term unemployment has also fallen, down by 44,000 to 526,000 for those out of work for over a year.
The UK has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, which has an average of 9.5 per cent, with only Germany, the Czech Republic and Malta having lower rates.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘This is a fantastic set of figures, which show more people in work than ever before and a strong growth in wages. That is a credit to British business, and a credit to the hardworking people of this country.
‘Alongside this, unemployment has fallen to the lowest level since 2008, and long-term unemployment has dropped by a staggering quarter over the last year.
‘This positive picture is replicated up and down the country, demonstrating that this one-nation Government is delivering a society with opportunity and security for all at its heart.’
James Sproule, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: ‘Another month of impressive jobs figures and strong wage growth show that the business-led recovery is well on track.
‘Despite uncertainties at home and abroad, employers have continued to create jobs, raise productivity and boost pay in a vote of confidence in the British economy.
‘Employment is up in most sectors and across the country, pay is growing and long-term, short-term, and youth unemployment are all falling. This is a welcome sign of a healthy economy, a strong private sector, and a tightening labour market.’
But TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said there are still ‘years of lost ground to make up’ in wage growth.
‘Public sector workers are increasingly falling behind. The challenge now is delivering a recovery that works for everyone across the country, regardless of which region or sector they work in.
‘Despite today’s improvements, it is also clear that there is still spare capacity in the jobs market. With inflation at zero, and rising numbers of workers in temporary jobs looking for full-time work, there is no case for immediate rate rises.’