Record number of women in employment

Unemployment fell to 6.8% in the three months to March, with a record number of women now in employment, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment fell to 6.8% in the three months to March, with a record number of women now in employment, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The latest figures for January to March show that employment continued to increase, unemployment continued to fall, as did the number of economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64. There were 30.43 million people in work for January to March 2014, 283,000 more than for October to December 2013 and 722,000 more than a year earlier. These increases in employment are partly due to more self-employed people, said the ONS.

Some 21.9% of people aged from 16 to 64 were economically inactive for January to March 2014, down from 22.1% for October to December 2013 and down from 22.4% for a year earlier. The inactivity rate, which includes carers and stay-at-home parents, has not been lower since October to December 1990.

For January to March 2014, 77.7% of men and 67.7% of women aged from 16 to 64 were in work. The ONS says: "These employment rates for men and women were higher than those for October to December 2013 and for a year earlier. While the employment rate for men was lower than before the 2008-09 downturn, the employment rate for women was the highest on record."

The number of employees working full-time increased by 336,000 to reach 18.90 million while the number of employees working part-time increased by 14,000, to reach 6.73 million. The number of self-employed people working full-time increased by 238,000 to reach 3.26 million and the number of self-employed people working part-time increased by 138,000 to reach 1.29 million. 

Pay including bonuses for employees in Great Britain for January to March 2014 was 1.7% higher than a year earlier, with pay excluding bonuses 1.3% higher.

Ian Brinkley, chief economist at The Work Foundation, said: “This is another good set of figures with a marked fall in unemployment. However, less than a quarter of the increase in overall employment was in permanent work – of the 283,000 increase in employment, nearly two thirds of the increase was in self-employment, many of them part time. Of the 99,000 new employee jobs, a third (33,000) were temporary, leaving just 66,000 as some of form of permanent contract. These permanent jobs are not necessarily secure – zero hour contracts are more likely to be for permanent than temporary posts and we have no reliable way of knowing what their contribution to overall employment growth has been in the last quarter. The overall good news may not therefore have much impact on perceptions of job insecurity.”





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