Boost for Theresa May as number of people in work hits new all-time high

Posted On: 
19th March 2019

Theresa May was handed a major boost today as official figures revealed the number of people in work has hit a new record.

Commuters in the centre of London
PA Images

The Office for National Statistics said the proportion of people in employment was at 76.1% for November 2018 to January 2019 - the highest since 1971.

Estimates show 32.71 million people of working age were in jobs – 473,000 more than a year ago.

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Meanwhile, unemployment has fallen to its lowest since the mid-1970s, at just 3.9%.

It was estimated that 1.34 million people were unemployed - 112,000 fewer than last year.

The proportion of people classed as 'economically inactive' - meaning they are not looking for work - stood at 20.7%, the lowest ever rate.

Elsewhere, wages rose by 1.4% compared with a year ago when adjusted for inflation.

Employment minister Alok Sharma said MPs could "safeguard" the figures by backing the Brexit deal the Prime Minister brought back from Brussels.

“Today’s employment figures are further evidence of the strong economy the Chancellor detailed in last week’s spring statement, showing how our pro-business policies are delivering record employment,” 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.”

Shadow Employment Minister, Mike Amesbury, said: “Beneath these figures lie millions of people trapped in insecure and low-paid jobs. Two thirds of children growing up in poverty live in a working family.

“Labour will ban zero-hour contracts, introduce a £10 an hour living wage and end the social security freeze, which is hitting workers on low incomes."

Stephen Clarke, Senior Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “This encouraging jobs growth is benefitting women and those traditionally left out of the labour market.

“It is even starting to have a knock-on effect on still historically weak pay rises.

“This is crucial for driving a long overdue pay recovery for workers, but may be held back if firms’ reluctance to invest continues.”