The UK’s employment rate soared to a new record high today and unemployment fell to a fresh low as the labour market shrugged off Brexit concerns.
The employment rate hit 76.1 per cent for November 2018 to January 2019, Office for National Statistics data revealed today, to a new record of 32.7m people – 473,000 higher than the same period last year.
A further 222,000 people found employment compared with the previous quarter.
Meanwhile unemployment fell to 3.9 per cent, its lowest since November 1974 to January 1975.
The UK’s economic inactivity rate stood at 20.7 per cent, the lowest ever rate.
ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes said: “The employment rate has reached a new record high while the proportion of people who are neither working nor looking for a job – the so-called ‘economic inactivity rate’– is at a new record low."
The annual rise was driven by an increase in full-time workers, growing by 424,000.
Employment among women hit 71.8 per cent – the highest since records began in 1971.
Institute of Directors economist Tej Parikh said the labour market had the "wind in its sails" but warned of choppy waters ahead.
He said: "Businesses have been steadfast in bringing on board new staff and in creating vacancies, despite question marks over the future path of the economy.
"Meanwhile, as unemployment has fallen, competition for a shrinking pool of workers has pushed up salaries and buoyed households."
He added: "But with uncertainty around Brexit reaching a crescendo, firms are becoming more and more cagey over their hiring decisions."
The government welcomed the figures and employment minister Alok Sharma urged MPs to back Theresa May's Brexit deal to provide businesses with clarity.
He said: "Our jobs market remains resilient as we see more people than ever before benefitting from earning a wage.
"By backing the Government’s Brexit deal and giving certainty to business, MPs have the chance to safeguard this jobs track record."