Unemployment drops to lowest level for 40 years

Unemployment has reached a 40-year low, according to new figures.

The rate fell by 65,000 in the latest quarter to 1.36 million, the lowest figure since winter 1974-75, giving a jobless rate of 4%.

Job vacancies increased by 20,000 to a record high of 829,000, while average earnings increased by 2.4% in the year to June, down from 2.5% the previous month.

The number of people in work continued to increase – up by 42,000 to 32.39 million, although the rate remained at 75%, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The unemployment rate has not been lower since winter 1974-75. Credit: ONS

The number of people classed as economically inactive, including students, those on long-term sick leave, taken early retirement or who have given up looking for work, increased by 77,000 to 8.7 million in the latest quarter, giving a rate of 21.2%.

The ONS also found for April to June 2018 75.6% of people aged 16-64 were in work - up from 75.1% for a year earlier and close to a record high.

Youth unemployment in the UK is at its lowest since records began in 1992, according to the ONS.

The number of workers on zero-hours contracts fell by 104,000 over the past year to 780,000, the first substantial fall since the ONS started tracking the figures in 2000.

The percentage of workers employed on a zero-hours contract is now 2.4%, down from 2.8% a year ago.

The Deputy Head of Labour Market, Matt Hughes said: "The number of vacancies is a new record high, while the unemployment rate is now at its lowest since the winter of 1974-75."

ONS also found there was a record fall in the number of EU nationals working in the UK - 2.28 million EU nationals working in this country in the quarter to June, 86,000 fewer than last year - the largest annual decrease since records began in 1997.

"The growth in employment is still being driven by UK nationals, with a noticeable drop over the past year in the number of workers from the so-called A8 eastern European countries in particular," added Hughes.

The claimant count, which includes people on Jobseeker’s Allowance and the unemployment element of Universal Credit, increased by 6,200 last month to 906,100, almost 108,000 more than a year ago.