Private sector employment climbed 65,000 in the third quarter, according to data from the Office for National Statistics, outweighing the 20,000 fall in overall public sector employment.
This fall means the private sector now employs 823,000 more people than a year ago, and 336,000 more than at its pre-recession peak.
The public sector employs 324,000 fewer people than a year before – and across all branches employs fewer people than at any point since the fourth quarter of 2000. However, part of this change is due to a re-classification of 196,000 employees of English further education colleges.
This data came in tandem with statistics showing that the employment boom continued into October. Total employment was 40,000 higher in the three months to October than between May and July, hitting another record high, of 29.6m. This put employment some 499,000 higher than a year before, and up to 71.2 per cent of the population aged 16 to 64.
The cheery picture continued with unemployment, which slid 82,000 in the three month period, to hit 2.5m – or 7.8 per cent of the economically active population. But less encouragingly, the big fall in unemployment came largely because more people registered as economically inactive – 60,000 more, bringing the total to 9.1m and 22.6 per cent of the working age population.
But the claimant count continued to edge down steadily in November, suggesting that the labour market recovery could go on. And once again wage growth, at 1.3 per cent in the year to October, was below inflation, meaning employing UK workers got cheaper in real terms.