Unemployment falls below 6% as vacancies hit record high


By Joel Rodwell

A new milestone has been reached with the unemployment rate falling below 6% for the first time in 6 years.

In a further sign of the strength of the UK labour market, yesterday’s independent figures show that job vacancies have risen by 127,000 to hit a 14-year record high. There are around 700,000 job opportunities across the country, showing that the government’s long-term economic plan to back businesses and create jobs is working.


Wages are also increasing above the cost of living, meaning more money in people’s pockets. Yesterday’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show that regular pay was up 1.8% and private sector pay was up 2.2%, well ahead of the inflation rate.

The total number of people without a job has fallen by nearly one million since 2010.

Overall employment figures:

  • record 30.8 million people in work
  • number of women in work and female employment rate both at record highs: 14.4 million and 68.2%
  • employment rate 73% – the same as the peak in early 2008 before the recession
  • unemployment rate 5.8% – lowest since June to August 2008
  • vacancies 700,000 – rising by 127,000 in the last year alone
  • Employment

The number of people in jobs increased by more that half a million over the last year – averaging over 1,400 every day – to a record 30.8 million. Over 80% of the annual rise is in full-time employment, while the number of people working part-time, but who want to work full-time, fell by 125,000.



There are 418,000 fewer unemployed people than a year ago. Schemes like the government’s Work Programme has contributed to the number of long-term unemployed people falling to the lowest level in 5 years, while those out of work for more than 2 years has seen the biggest annual fall in over 16 years.


Claimant count

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has now been falling for the last 26 months and is below 900,000 – the lowest level since June 2008. This is down over 25,000 on the month and down over 350,000 on the year.

Yesterday’s figures also include details of claims for Universal Credit, which is in almost 100 Jobcentres and will shortly be rolled out across the country. Since it began, almost 55,000 people have made a claim for Universal Credit, and in December there were 26,940 people claiming the in and out of work benefit, around a third of whom were in employment.


Young People

Youth unemployment has fallen by 171,000 compared to this time last year. Excluding those in full-time education, there are now 520,000 unemployed young people. The number of young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has fallen every single month for the past 3 years, and is at the lowest since the 1970s.


International comparisons

The annual increase in the UK employment level is the largest of all EUcountries. Over the past year, the UK has seen the strongest employment rate growth in the G7 – better than the United States, Japan, Canada and France. The UK has also seen the largest annual fall in the unemployment rate in the G7.


Supporting people into work

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offers a range of support across the country to get people off benefits and into jobs through our network of over 700 Jobcentres. These include work experience, employer-led training, work placements, skills training, the Work Programme, and help for budding entrepreneurs through the New Enterprise Allowance.

DWP has also introduced the Claimant Commitment in all British jobcentres – it is a more rigorous commitment for benefit claimants based on the person’s individual circumstances and clearly sets out what their responsibilities are while job hunting. New figures show that more than a million jobseekers have now signed the commitment.


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