Unemployment falls to 43-year low, but EU national numbers also down

UK unemployment has fallen to levels not seen for 40 years, according to official figures.

The figures from the Office for National Statistics, released this morning, reveal unemployment fell by 65,000 to 1.36m in the quarter to June. This meant 75.6% of people aged 16-64 were in work – up from 75.1% at the same time in the previous year.

Meanwhile, there were 2.28m EU nationals working in the UK, down 86,000 on the same period last year and the largest annual decrease since records began in 1997. However, the number of non-EU nationals working in the UK rose to 1.27m – 74,000 more than a year earlier.

Wages, excluding bonuses, also rose by 2.7% in the quarter to June, compared with a year ago.

Commenting on the figures, a spokesperson for career site totaljobs said despite sluggish wage growth, there was plenty to be positive about, with industries such as banking, logistics and healthcare all displaying strong growth on the totaljobs platform.

“It’s a great time for candidates in the UK jobs market. We now expect employers to step up to the plate to compete for the best talent and fight for the most skilled and in-demand individuals.

“Employees looking to make their next career move can take great encouragement from today’s results, and we will surely see candidates demanding much more from their potential employer as the jobs market continues to hot up in the warmest summer we’ve seen for decades.”

But Tara Sinclair, economist and senior fellow at global job site Indeed, said while on the surface the figures represented positive news, in her view the labour market was close to bursting: “Employers will now be considering their next move following the sustained drop in EU nationals working in the UK over the last three quarters. The supply of workers is becoming more scarce, which means hiring is likely to become even more difficult moving forward.”

Sinclair added that the “ever-elusive” question of wage growth continues to confound economic theory.

“As employers fight for each recruit, salaries should be rising amid this battle for talent. Although there has been a mild improvement, in real terms wage growth remains surprisingly weak given the tightness of today’s labour market.

“With employment up and unemployment down, it may appear that all is rosy, but the prolonged wage squeeze, low productivity growth and continued Brexit uncertainty would suggest that the recent growth in the jobs market cannot be sustained much longer.”


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