There were 100,000 more people with work in the three months to September, compared to the previous three months, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said yesterday, bringing employment to another all-time high.
Details in the data highlighted this optimistic picture. Total weekly hours worked climbed 1.1 per cent to 945.3m, and average weekly hours worked edged up from 31.7 to 32. Eleven thousand fewer were part-time because they couldn’t find a full-time job. Unemployment fell 49,000 into the quarter, coming entirely from 16-24 year olds. But this figure was marred by the 21,000 jump in unemployment lasting more than 24 months, bringing the total up 4.9 per cent to 443,000.
But the growth in jobs was drastically down compared to previous months of above-200,000 expansion, and ONS statisticians told City A.M. the figures were compatible with shrinking employment in September.
And October saw a 10,100 boost in the claimant count, the biggest rise in 13 months, and the second rise in a row since the end of the Olympics, before which the claimant count fell for six consecutive months.
The data also showed that despite much-heralded public sector pay freezes, state-employed workers were still seeing pay rises.
Pay in September was on average £488 per week – £21 more than private sector workers, and 2.2 per cent more than a year earlier. But the ONS told City A.M. that somewhere between 0.6 and 0.8 percentage points of this rise was down to moving poorly-paid further education workers over to the private sector.