Unemployment fell to 4.9% in the period between May and July 2016, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Unemployment for the same period last year was 5.5%. The figures show there were 31.77 million people in work, 174,000 more than for February to April 2016 and 559,000 more than for a year earlier.
There were 23.25 million people working full-time, 434,000 more than for a year earlier. There were 8.51 million people working part-time, 126,000 more than for a year earlier. The number of self-employed people increased by 224,000 to 4.76 million (15% of all people in work).
The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.5%, the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971, says the ONS. It says record high employment rates for women have been boosted partly by ongoing changes to the state pension age for women resulting in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.
Unemployment fell most among women: there were 901,000 unemployed men, 88,000 fewer than for a year earlier. There were 731,000 unemployed women, 102,000 fewer than for a year earlier.
Average weekly earnings for employees increased by 2.3% including bonuses and by 2.1% excluding bonuses compared with a year earlier.
Neil Carberry, CBI Director of People and Skills, said: “With much of the data still pre-Referendum, it’s too early to make any assumptions about the effect of June’s vote to leave the European Union on the UK’s labour market.
“But the strength of employment growth in the first half of this year is encouraging, and highlights the resilience of the UK’s flexible labour market.
“Maintaining this flexibility as we navigate the challenges and opportunities the country faces following the EU Referendum will be vital for our future prosperity, pay and job creation.”