The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures revealing that the unemployment rate in the UK is now at its lowest level in almost 10 years. The statistics confirm that unemployment in the UK fell to 5.2% between August and October 2015, compared with 6% a year earlier, and that there were 31.3 million people in work over this period, which amounted to a 505,000 increase compared to a year earlier.
Despite the fall in unemployment, the ONS identified that British workers have seen their pay increase at the slowest rate since the January to March period of 2015. This means that earnings continue to grow in real terms, but at a slower rate than in recent months. Total pay has grown 2.4%, but the Bank of England has suggested that it would like to see earnings grow above 3% per year before it increases interest rates.
The unemployment rate in the North West was also 5.2% between August and October 2015, which was the lowest rate in the region since 2006. The highest rate throughout the period was in the North East at 8.7%, whilst the lowest was in the South East at 3.7%.
In response to the statics, Chancellor George Osborne stated: “These record employment figures, alongside unemployment and youth unemployment rates at a nine-year low, mean more people than ever before have the security of a job and regular pay packet so they can provide for themselves and their families”.
General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady took a more cautious approach to the news by suggesting: “While it’s good news that employment continues to rise, the slowdown in pay growth is a real cause for concern”. O’Grady further remarked: “For the recovery to deliver for everyone, we need stronger growth in pay and productivity in 2016”.