1. ITV Report

Unemployment at joint lowest level for more than 40 years

There are now 317,000 more people in work than a year ago. Credit: PA

Unemployment has fallen to its joint lowest level for more than 40 years, with women driving the growth in employment.

The jobless total was cut by 52,000 to 1.4 million in the three months to August, putting the unemployment rate at 4.3% - a 12-year low.

The Office for National Statistics said more than 32 million people are now in work, including 15 million women, with the female employment rate reaching a record 70.7%.

Meanwhile, the number of job vacancies has increased by 3,000 to a near-record high of 783,000.

However pay growth continues to fall behind inflation.

The number of people unemployed between June and August 2017
The rise in employment over the last year
The unemployment rate for June to August - the joint lowest level since 1975

Average earnings increased by 2.2% in the year to August, unchanged from the previous month, and below the latest RPI inflation rate of 3.9% and 3% for CPI inflation.

ONS statistician Matt Hughes said: "Many labour market measures continue to strengthen.

"Employment growth in the latest three-month period was driven mainly by women, with a corresponding drop in inactivity.

"Vacancies remain robust, at a near-record level.

"On the other hand, total earnings in cash terms grew slower than prices over the last year, meaning the real value continues to fall - down 0.3% over that period."

  • Political reaction

Employment minister Damian Hinds said: "Our economy is helping to create full time, permanent jobs which are giving people across the UK the chance of securing a reliable income.

"We've boosted the income for people on the lowest pay by increasing the national living wage and delivered the fastest pay rise for the lowest earners in 20 years.

"That's great progress and we're determined to help more people flourish in the world of work.

"For example we've launched our new returnship programme to help more women get into good jobs after taking time out, and to keep their career progressing."

Margaret Greenwood, shadow employment minister, said: "With a record number of working people living in poverty, the news that real wages have fallen yet again is deeply concerning.

"While the overall increase in employment is welcome, it's also clear from today's figures that too many people are struggling to find employment because of their age, ethnicity, disability, or where they live.

"The Tories' cuts to in-work support are making matters even worse for working families. That's why it's so crucial the Government urgently listens to Labour's call to pause the roll out and fix Universal Credit."