According to Office for National Statistics figures for the quarter to February 2018, unemployment fell by 16,000 to 1.42m – the lowest since the three months to May 1975, while the number of people in work reached a record high of 32.2m.
There was more good news as wages rose 2.8% in the quarter but remained just below the UK’s 2.9% inflation rate.
Commenting on the figures, Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) director of policy Tom Hadley said it was a relief to see pay growth at its highest level since summer 2015 and inflation coming down.
“Our data shows employers have been increasing starting salaries to compete for talent for years but it hasn’t been translating into pay rises for the wider workforce. Today’s data is a sign that employers are beginning to think seriously about how to keep existing staff, who could otherwise be lured away by companies with better pay offers.
“We already know employers are working hard to reach out to underrepresented groups and to make hiring practices as inclusive as possible, but they still can’t find enough candidates. That’s why it’s essential the government allows businesses to continue to recruit EU workers post-Brexit, without extra cost, time and bureaucracy.
“We simply don’t have the number of people in this country to fill vacancies, and if the government doesn’t recognise this it will hinder further growth of our economy.”
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