Jobless rate falls to lowest since 1975 in pre-election boost for Theresa May but wages are being squeezed by rising prices

  • Latest employment figures have given boost to Theresa May ahead of June 8
  • The jobless rate has fallen to 4.6 per cent, the lowest since the summer of 1975
  • Numbers in work rose to highest since records began in 1971 in quarter to March 

The unemployment rate has fallen to a 32-year low in a pre-election boost for Theresa May.

The jobless total fell by 53,000 to 1.54 million in the quarter to March, with the rate of 4.6 per cent the lowest since summer 1975.

Meanwhile, employment has increased by 122,000 to almost 32 million – the highest since records began in 1971.

But the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also gave more evidence of the growing squeeze on consumers.

Average earnings increased by 2.4 per cent in the year to March, below inflation which is running at 2.7 per cent.

The jobless total fell by 53,000 to 1.54 million in the quarter to March, with the rate of 4.6 per cent the lowest since summer 1975

The jobless total fell by 53,000 to 1.54 million in the quarter to March, with the rate of 4.6 per cent the lowest since summer 1975

Average weekly earnings in real terms, adjusted for inflation, fell by 0.2 per cent excluding bonuses compared with a year earlier.

The number of people on the claimant count rose by 19,400 to 792,800, mainly because of an increase in those on Universal Credit.

The data also showed that the number of people classed as economically inactive fell by 40,000 in the latest quarter to 8.8 million, the lowest for a year.

The total includes people looking after a relative, on sick leave or who have given up looking for a job.

The number of non-UK nationals working in this country increased by 207,000 to a record 3.5million between January and March.

The number of EU citizens working in the UK accounted for most of the rise – going up by 171,000 over the period to 2.32million.

Employment has increased by 122,000 to almost 32 million - the highest since records began in 1971, according to the ONS

The number was 928,000 in 1997, and the proportion of non-UK nationals rose from 3.5 per cent to 11.1 per cent over the same period.

The ONS said the increase reflected the admission of several new member states to the European Union.

The number of job vacancies in the UK has reached a record high of 777,000 after a 22,000 increase in the quarter to March.

Self-employment has continued to increase – up by 82,000 to a near record 4.78 million, 15 per cent of all people in work.

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