Unemployment fell to 1.44m between September and November last year

Caitlin Morrison
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London City Workers Walk Across Thames Bridges
More people than ever are in work in the UK (Source: Getty)

UK employment surged to a record high of 32.2m people in work between September and November 2017, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), pushing the pound up by 0.7 per cent against the dollar.

The employment rate, which is the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work, was 75.3 per cent, an increase on a year earlier (74.5 per cent) and the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971, the ONS said.

Unemployment fell to 1.44m in the same period, barely changed from June to August, but 160,000 fewer than the previous year.

Meanwhile, average weekly earnings for employees, not adjusted for price inflation, increased by 2.5 per cent year-on-year including bonuses, and 2.4 per cent excluding bonuses.

Senior ONS statistician David Freeman said: "With the employment rate returning to a joint record high and the number of vacancies setting a new record, demand for workers clearly remains strong. Moreover, economic inactivity is at its lowest since the winter of 2000-01.

"Nevertheless inflation remains higher than pay growth and so the real value of earnings continues to decline."

The pound surged to a post-Brexit high of $1.41 after the data was released, and by mid-afternoon had reached $1.4187.

"The relentless rise in sterling, which has seen it jump over three per cent in the last 10 days is looking durable," said Jasper Lawler, head of research, in London Capital Group.

"The good news for the economy is that more people are working with rising wages despite any uncertainty associated with leaving the European Union. Lord Jim O’Neill looks vindicated so far in his belief that strong domestic and global growth will overcome Brexit headwinds."

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