Compared to last year, nearly a million more people are in work, making the employment rate the highest ever recorded, new official figures show.
The record-breaking annual rise in employment of 929,000 sees the employment rate rising to 73.1%, equal to the record high in 2005. There are now 30.6 million people in work, 1.8 million more than 2010. This proves that the government’s long-term plan to increase jobs is working, following the largest recession since the 1930s. The number of women in work also reached a new record of 14.2 million, with the female employment rate now at 68.1%.
Unemployment also saw the biggest annual improvement for nearly 2 decades, reducing by 383,000. The unemployment rate stands at 6.5%. Schemes, such as the government’s Work Programme, have also contributed to the biggest reduction in long-term unemployment since 1998: reducing figures by 166,000 per year.
Talking about the recent figures, Minister for Employment Esther McVey said: “An important milestone has been reached in our country’s recovery. With one of the highest employment rates ever, it is clear that the government’s long-term economic plan to help businesses create jobs and get people working again is the right one. With an employment rate, which is the highest recorded, record women in work and more young people in jobs: the resilience of the country during the downturn is being rewarded. We know there is more to do and the best way to do so is to go on delivering a plan that’s creating growth and jobs.”
The number of unemployed young people saw the largest annual decrease since the late 1980s, down 141,000. Youth unemployment has been decreasing now for 10 months: with the number of young people on Jobseeker’s Allowance falling for 31 months, down 133,700 on the year. Youth unemployment is now 127,000 smaller than in 2010. Since 2010 over two-thirds of the rise in employment has been in higher skilled occupations, generally commanding a higher wage. The UK’s unemployment rate is also smaller than the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain and the EU average.
In addition, the number of people claiming one of the main out-of-work benefits is decreasing: claimant unemployment was 1.04 million in June 2014, 36,300 smaller on the month and down 418,900 on the year. The claimant count rate is 3.1%, down 0.1 points on the month and down 1.2 points on the year. By November 2013, the number claiming incapacity benefits fell from 43,600 to 2.46 million. The most recent provisional figure for May 2014 suggests the caseload has stayed around the same since November 2013. The number of lone parents on income support decreased from 510,000 to 485,000, the provisional figure for May 2014 is 475,000.
Also, the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work reached 73.1 per cent in the three months leading up to May: up 0.5 points on the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics reported. That rate was previously recorded in 1974 and 2004-05.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “More people up and down the country are finding jobs, as we build a stronger, more balanced economy. And today we have the highest employment rate on record, which shows that this Government has created the right conditions for growth. We have made all the decisions to reduce our deficit; lifting around 3 million people out of tax, so they keep more of what they earn; healing the scar of the north south divide through the Regional Growth Fund and giving young people a helping hand by boosting apprenticeships.”
What might be introduced to encourage the set-up of more small businesses, to help employment?