Unemployment down to 5.2%

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The unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% between August and October, the lowest it has been since January 2006 with the employment rate being the highest since comparable records began in 1971, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The ONS says there were 31.30 million people in work between August and October, 207,000 more than for May to July 2015 and 505,000 more than for a year earlier. The majority – 22.88 million people – were working full-time. That figure is up 338,000 on a year earlier. There were 8.42 million people working part-time, 167,000 more than for a year earlier.

There were 939,000 unemployed men, 153,000 fewer than for a year earlier. There were 774,000 unemployed women, 91,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

Comparing August to October 2015 with a year earlier, pay increased by 2.4% including bonuses and by 2.0% excluding bonuses.

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said: “The unemployment rate has fallen to pre-recession levels for the first time as the labour market continues to perform strongly, with youth unemployment also declining.

“The UK’s strong performance on job creation reflects the fact that our flexible labour market enables firms to create jobs easily and scale up production. With some significant labour market interventions like the apprenticeship levy and National Living Wage on the horizon, it is important this flexibility is not diluted further.”

Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, said: “Today’s statistics suggest that job growth in the UK has well and truly recovered, following what seemed to be a pause earlier in the year. Employment has increased by half a million and it’s encouraging to see the unemployment rate continuing to fall. It now stands at 5.2%, which is below the level that many commentators had regarded as sustainable. But wage growth remains subdued, and this makes it less likely that we will see interest rates increase during 2016.

“With very low inflation, the average pay packet is still increasing in real terms, but this will only be sustainable if productivity increases. This will require organisations to invest in technology, new systems and their workforce.

“Also, the latest figures for public sector employment show that it fell by just 12,000 in the three months to September. With the Spending Review likely to require far fewer job cuts than anticipated, public sector employers might find the coming months less challenging than feared, even if the 1% pay ceiling does affect their ability to recruit and retain key staff.”

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