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Record 32.7 million people in work as jobless rate falls to 3.9%

The UK’s jobless rate has fallen below 4% for the first time since 1975. Credit: Philip Toscano/PA

Record numbers of people are in work, while the UK’s jobless rate has fallen below 4% for the first time since 1975, new figures show.

Average earnings increased by 3.4% in the year to January, down by 0.1% on the previous month but still outpacing inflation.

Total UK unemployment. Credit: PA Graphics

Employment increased by 222,000 in the quarter to January to 32.7 million, the highest since records began in 1971, reported the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Unemployment fell by 35,000 to 1.34 million, 112,000 lower than a year ago, giving a jobless rate of 3.9%, well below the EU average of 6.5%.

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The number of economically inactive people fell by 117,000 in the latest three months to 8.55 million, a rate of just under 21%, the lowest on record.

Meanwhile, the number of job vacancies in the economy increased by 4,000 to 854,000.

Pay growth versus inflation. Credit: PA Graphics

ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes said: “The employment rate has reached a new record high, while the proportion of people who are neither working nor looking for a job – the so-called ‘economic inactivity rate’– is at a new record low.

“The unemployment rate has also fallen below 4% for the first time since early 1975.”

UK unemployment rate. Credit: PA Graphics

Employment Minister Alok Sharma said: “Today’s employment figures are further evidence of the strong economy the Chancellor detailed in last week’s Spring Statement, showing how our pro-business policies are delivering record employment.

“2019 has continued to be a record-breaker, with the employment rate topping 76% for the first time, record female employment, and unemployment falling below 4% for the first time in 44 years.

“Our jobs market remains resilient as we see more people than ever before benefiting from earning a wage.

“By backing the Government’s Brexit deal and giving certainty to business, MPs have the chance to safeguard this jobs track record.”