The release of new official figures have shown promising trends in the UK’s employment market. Unemployment is continuing to fall, while average wages are on the up.
Wages are growing faster than they have for nearly four years. Between February and April, they rose by 2.7%; a figure which holds true whether bonuses are included or not. This is the fastest rate of wage growth the UK has seen since August 2011.
Over the same period, the number of people out of work fell by 43,000. The jobless rate is now at 5.5%, representing the lowest percentage of UK residents out of work since August 2008. According to the Office for National Statistics, there are now 1.81 million people in the UK out of work who are eligible to work, and 31.05 million people in work.
The rate of employment for women rose over this period, with 68.6% of all women now in work. This is the highest figure on record.
Of those that are out of work, many are school leavers or graduates and their contemporaries. For some time, particularly since the start of the economic crisis, young people have been finding it harder to get work than their older counterparts. The rate of unemployment for those aged between 16 and 24 continues to be markedly higher than that of other age groups, according to the newly-released figures. In the three month period from February to April this year, this age group had an unemployment rate of 16.1%.
The figures have been welcomed by many analysts as a good sign for the UK economy, particularly with regards to the economic situation of the UK’s residents. The government was extremely positive about the data, with employment minister Priti Patel saying: “Today’s figures confirm that our long-term economic plan is already starting to deliver a better, more prosperous future for the whole of the country, with wages rising, more people finding jobs and more women in work than ever before.”
Following growth in average wages, some analysts predict that interest rates, which have long languished at historic lows, may rise sooner than was previously expected. According to the chief economist of the British Chambers of Commerce, David Kern: “The speed in the rise in earnings will embolden a minority on the Monetary Policy Committee who feel the urge to raise rates.”
“However,” Kern continued, “until there is firmer evidence of comparable increases in productivity, such a move would be premature.”