Unemployment fell by 132,000 to 6.4%, the lowest rate since late 2008, but the unemployment rate for women aged 25 to 49 fell more slowly than for other groups, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The figures show there were 30.60 million people in work, 167,000 more than for January to March 2014 and 820,000 more than a year earlier.
The employment rate was 73.0%. This was higher than for January to March 2014 and for a year earlier. There were 1.15 million unemployed men, 85,000 fewer than for January to March 2014 and 294,000 fewer than a year earlier. There were 926,000 unemployed women, 46,000 fewer than for January to March 2014 and 143,000 fewer than a year earlier. The number of unemployed women has fallen at a greater rate for women aged 16 to 24 than for those aged 25 to 49 in the last year. The number of unemployed women aged 25 to 49 fell by 10.1% over the year, compared to 21.9% for women aged 16 to 24 and 211% for men aged 25 to 49. The number of unemployed men aged 50 and over fell by 17.9% in the year, while the number of unemployed women aged 50 and over remained little changed on the year before.
There were 8.86 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were out of work and not seeking or available to work (known as economically inactive). This was 15,000 more than for January to March 2014 but 130,000 fewer than a year earlier.
The economic inactivity rate was 21.9%. This includes stay at home parents and carers. While this was unchanged compared with January to March 2014, the inactivity rate has shown a generally downward path since late 2011.
Pay including bonuses for employees in Great Britain was 0.2% lower than a year earlier. This was mainly due to an unusually high growth rate for April 2013 as some employers who usually paid bonuses in March paid them in April last year. Pay excluding bonuses for employees in Great Britain was 0.6% higher than a year earlier.
Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at CIPD, said: “The number of people in work has increased by over 450,000 in six months and average hours worked have increased marginally, so this is not because work is being spread more thinly. About half of this growth has been in self-employment and this could mean that hours and earnings become more variable in future, as the self-employed tend to vary these rather than stopping (or starting) self-employment. Unemployment continues to fall sharply and…we are now seeing real progress in terms of reducing youth unemployment. The number of 16-24 year olds who are unemployed and not in full-time education fell by 135,000 in the last two quarters.”
He added that there had been little movement on wages, possibly due to the lack of a rise in productivity. He said: “Although business investment is now picking up, this takes time to show up in higher productivity and needs a skilled workforce to make best use of it. Employers need to take advantage of the favourable market conditions to develop their workforce or else we face the prolonged prospect of a low pay, low productivity cycle.”