UK unemployment rate drops to 6.6 percent, ONS research finds

The UK unemployment rate has dropped to 6.6% over the three months leading to April, with the total number of people in employment rising by a record 345,000, to 30.5 million, most of which are in full-time employment, the latest statistical figures pertaining to the labour market have revealed.

UK unemployment rate drops to 6.6 percent, ONS research finds image 1

The figures for unemployment in the three months to April are based on the Labour Force Survey, in which the ONS speaks to 60,000 households once a quarter, making it the country’s biggest household survey.

Data from the ONS revealed that there were 2.16 million unemployed people, 161,000 fewer than for November 2013 to January 2014 (7.2%) and 347,000 (7.8%) fewer than a year earlier. This figure of the total number of people out of work is now at its lowest level for more than five years, with youth unemployment, which covers 16-24 year olds, standing at 853,000.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in May fell by 27,400 to 1.09 million, the ONS said. Furthermore, the data revealed that there were 8.82 million economically inactive people (those out of work but not seeking or available to work) aged from 16 to 64 (a total of 21.8%), down from 22.4% for a year earlier and the lowest since 1990.

Unfortunately, the rate of wage increases slowed sharply, down to 0.7% from 1.9% the previous month. This was largely due to delayed bonus payments, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. Excluding bonuses, pay rose by 0.9%.

“Weak pay growth and the ‘cost of living crisis’ remains the Achilles heel of the economic recovery,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

“But it should not be long until we see earnings growth accelerate as the labour market continues to tighten. Pay growth should pick up in coming months, perhaps significantly.”

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