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Main points for March to May 2019

The figures in this bulletin come from the Labour Force Survey, which gathers information from a sample of households across the UK. Courtesy of Office  for national statistics –

In spite of Brexit, the UK job market is showing resilience.

Earnings growth increased faster than anticipated and with lowest unemployment figures for several decades.

In the first quarter, total employee earnings increased by 3.6 per cent compared with the same period last year.

This increase was much a faster rate than economists anticipated and the highest rate since July 2008.

The unemployment is stable at 3.8 per cent, which is the lowest since 1974 and the share of those in employment remained near record high.

“Regular pay is growing at its fastest for nearly 11 years in cash terms, and its quickest for over three years after taking account of inflation,” said Matt Hughes, deputy head of labour market statistics at the ONS. “The labour market continues to be strong, with the employment rate still at a near-record high and unemployment down again.”

“The labour market is emitting enough upward inflation pressure to dissuade the MPC [Monetary Policy Committee] from cutting interest rates over the coming months,” said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. 

  • The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.8%; it has not been lower since October to December 1974.
  • Employment rate for women was 72.0%, the joint-highest on record, partly due to changes to the State Pension age
  • The highest employment rate, at 85.5%, was for those aged from 35 to 49 years
  • More than half of the annual increase in the number of people in work occurred among those aged from 50 to 64 years
  • Estimates for March to May 2019 show 32.75 million people aged 16 years and over in employment, 354,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • Part-time working also showed an increase of 107,000 on the year to reach 8.66 million.
  • 63 million paid employees (84.4% of all people in employment), 188,000 more than a year earlier
  • Hours worked by women have increased steadily since records began in 1971
  • The number of people in employment in the UK increased by 1.1% (to reach 32.75 million)
  • Unemployment for everyone was 3.8%; it has not been lower since October to December 1974
  • Unemployment for men was 4.0%, slightly lower than a year earlier (4.2%)
  • Unemployment for women was 3.6%, the lowest since comparable records began in 1971
  • Over the last five years long-term unemployment has more than halved