Lowest unemployment rate since 1975!

UK unemployment fell to its lowest rate since 1975 during the quarter to February 2018, as average wages overtook inflation for the first time in a year – but the data masks underlying problems with the UK workforce, including the growing number of insecure jobs, experts have said.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed industry expectations that a slight increase in wage growth – a 2.8% rise for both total and regular pay – meant pay growth was now exceeding inflation after a long period of falling below it.

The unemployment rate in the three months to February 2018 dropped to 4.2%, the lowest in more than 30 years, while employment levels climbed to a record high of 75.4%, although this raised questions around the security and quality of such employment.

Average regular pay excluding bonuses for UK workers over the period was £483 per week before pay deductions, in comparison to £469 a week the same time the previous year.

Average total pay including bonuses was £513 a week before pay deductions, a small rise from £501 per week a year earlier. Both regular and total pay therefore increased by 2.8 per cent between the three months to February 2017 and the three months to February 2018.

But while skills shortages may force wages up slightly as companies compete against each other for top talent, the rising numbers of workers with insecure employment are unlikely to benefit from long-term pay rises.

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