Unemployment fell slightly to 4.8% between September and November 2016, with the vast bulk of the decrease due to more women finding jobs.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there were 23.25 million people working full-time, 209,000 more than for a year earlier. There were 8.55 million people working part-time, 86,000 more than for a year earlier.
The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.5%, virtually unchanged compared with the previous three months.
The number of unemployed women fell by 44,000 on the year before and by 8,000 for men, although men account for more of the unemployed than women – there were 883,000 unemployed men compared to 721,000 unemployed women. Meanwhile, the December statistics on Jobseekers Allowance claimants show a fall of 10,700 in the number of men claiming unemployment-related benefits compared to November, but little change for women.
The ONS says the increase in the employment rate for women between September and November is partly due to ongoing changes to the State Pension age for women resulting in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.
There were 8.89 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (not working and not seeking or available to work), 85,000 more than for June to August 2016 but 63,000 fewer than for a year earlier. These include stay-at-home parents.
Average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain not adjusted for price inflation increased by 2.8% including bonuses and by 2.7% excluding bonuses compared with a year earlier.
Rachel Smith, CBI Principal Labour Market Economist, said: “The high levels of employment our flexible labour market generates remains a mainstay of the UK economy, and will be key to making a success of Brexit.
“However, pay growth is likely to be eroded by increasing inflation during this year, underlining the need for a regionally-focussed industrial strategy that powers the productivity growth that will enable wages to rise more swiftly.”