The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released the most recent estimated employment statistics for men and women from age 16 to 64 years of age in paid work in the UK labour market.
For the quarter May to July 2019, the ONS estimates that there were 32.78 million people aged 16 years and over in employment. This equates to a UK employment rate of 76.1%; which is 0.6% higher than a year earlier and the joint-highest on record since comparable records began in 1971, the previous highest rate being in the October to December 1974 quarter.
On the flip side, the UK unemployment rate was down from 4.0% for the same quarter last year and is now estimated at 3.8% for May-July 2019. This equates to approximately 1.29 million people unemployed in this quarter; 64,000 fewer than a year earlier
These most recent figures reflect the trend of generally increasing rates of men and women in paid work since 2012.
Furthermore, the figures also show an increase in women aged 16-64 in paid work, currently at 72.1%, which is up 1.1% from the same quarter in 2018. This increase in women in employment appears to be the main factor in increased overall employment rates and there are currently around 15.52 million women aged 16-64 in employment. It is assumed that this increase is due to changes to the State Pension age for women which has meant a reduction in the number of women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.
The estimated employment rate for men for the May-July 2019 quarter was down 0.1% on the previous quarter but up 0.1% from the same quarter last year to 80.2%. In terms of numbers, this represents an increase of 86,000 on the year to reach 17.26 million men in employment; it is estimated by the ONS that the increase of men in paid work was driven by those who were self-employed.
The ONS also estimated an annual growth in average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain increased to 4.0% for total pay (including bonuses), and fell to 3.8% for regular pay (excluding bonuses). After adjusting for inflation, annual growth in total pay in real terms is estimated to be 2.1% and annual growth in regular pay is estimated to be 1.9%.
Given the uncertainty over Brexit and the difficulty of predicting its effects on the UK labour market, commentators will be eagerly anticipating statistics for the August-September 2019 and October-December 2019 quarters with interest.