Sajid Javid talks up 'strong economy' amid record-high employment figures

Posted On: 
13th August 2019

Sajid Javid has praised Britain’s “strong economy” as employment hit a record high while wages also grew.

Employment and unemployment has risen according to the latest ONS figures
Credit: 
PA Images

The Chancellor said the "fundamentals" of the economy were sound as employment went up by 115,000 to 32.81 million in the three months to June, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The estimated 76.1% of people in work is the joint-highest on record since comparable records began in 1971.

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The percentage of working-age women in employment also rose to its highest rate on record, at 72.1%.

Average earnings meanwhile, including bonuses, went up by 3.7% compared with 3.4% in the previous month.

The ONS said that total pay is estimated to have increased by 1.8%, in real terms, compared with a year earlier.

However the figures also revealed the biggest increase in unemployment since 2017, as the number out of people work went up by 31,000 to 1.33 million in the last quarter - putting the rate at 3.9%.

It came as the level of economically inactivity hit a joint-record low of 20.7%.

Mr Javid said: “Every person deserves the chance to succeed and provide for their families through a steady income.

"I’m pleased to see 2.9 million more people are in work every day since 2010, wages are rising at their fastest in more than a decade, and people across the UK are taking home more of what they earn.

“Thanks to the hard work of the British people and the government, we can further invest in our public services.

"And today’s figures are another sign that despite the challenges across the global economy, the fundamentals of the British economy are strong as we prepare to leave the EU.”

'REALLY WORRYING'

But Labour said the rise in unemployment was "really worrying" at a time when ministers are committed to taking Britain out of the EU with or without an agreement.

Shadow minister Marsha de Cordova added: “Average pay has still not returned to the level before the financial crisis over 10 years ago, and the number of workers on zero-hours contracts has risen sharply, leaving people trapped in low paid, insecure work and struggling to meet basic household bills.

Matt Hughes, deputy head of labour market statistics for the ONS, said: “Employment continues to increase, with three-quarters of this year’s growth being due to more women working.

“However, the number of vacancies has been falling for six months, with fewer now than there were this time last year.

“Excluding bonuses, real wages are growing at their fastest in nearly four years, but pay levels still have not returned to their pre-downturn peak.”