UK unemployment falls to lowest rate since 1974 amid rise in long-term sickness

Credit: PA

The UK’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest for almost half a decade as more Britons left the labour market completely, according to official figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the unemployment rate fell to 3.5% over the three months to August – the lowest since February 1974.

Economists had predicted that the unemployment rate would stay steady at 3.6%, the rate it hit during the previous quarter. It came after a record rise in the number of people considered “economically inactive” due to long-term sickness.

Meanwhile, the number of UK workers on payrolls rose by 69,000 between August and September to 29.7 million, the ONS said. ONS head of labour market and household statistics David Freeman said: “The unemployment rate continues to fall and is now at its lowest for almost 50 years." “However, the number of people neither working nor looking for work continues to rise, with those who say this is because they’re long-term sick reaching a record level. “While the number of job vacancies remains high after its long period of rapid growth, it has now dropped back a little, with a number of employers telling us they’ve reduced recruitment due to a variety of economic pressures. “However, because unemployment is also down, there continues to be more vacancies than unemployed people.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know