The Labour Force Survey estimates that the employment rate between February and April of 2017 (the proportion of people age between 16 – 64) stands at 74.8%. In real numbers, this means there were 31.95 million people in employment, which is 109,000 more than in November 2016 – January 2017 and 372,000 more than the previous year.
And that’s not the only good news, both unemployment rates and inactivity rates have fallen too. At 4.6%, February – April 2017 has the lowest unemployment rate on record since 1975. In real terms, this means there are 1.53 unemployed people within the UK, which is 50,000 fewer than November 2016 – January 2017 and 145,000 fewer than the previous year when the rate stood at 5%.
Impressively, the inactivity rate of 16 – 64 year olds was also down. Inactivity is defined as ‘not working and not seeking or available to work’. During the same time period, 8.85 million were found to be inactive, which gives a inactivity percentage rate of 21.5% – down 0.3% from 21.8% the previous year. This drop of 74,000 from 2016 puts 2017 at the joint lowest level for inactivity since 1971.
But it’s not all good news
The survey counts any form of employment – therefore zero-hour contracts and part-time work are included. This could very easily skew the figures, especially with the rise in the so-called gig economy in the UK.
Perhaps the most telling part of the research lies with average wages. Although employment is up, and wages are up – real wages are down. ‘Actual’ wages have risen by 2.1% with bonuses and 1.7% excluding bonuses compared to last year. However in ‘real’ terms, the employee is losing out. When taking into account price inflation, wages including a bonus dropped by 0.4% and wages without bonuses dropped by 0.6% from 2016.
So although we’re seeing high employment rates and low unemployment rates, wages just aren’t keeping up. The jobs market is buoyant, so if you are looking, make sure you don’t undervalue yourself and check out all of our current vacancies to see if anything takes your fancy.