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Number of workless households in the UK drops

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Glasgow has some of the highest levels of workless households in Britain. Photo: View Pictures/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The number of UK households where no one works is falling in a promising sign for Britain’s record jobs boom.

No adults are currently working in 2.9 million households across the UK between April and June, making up 13.6% of all households, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

That was 0.2 percentage points lower than in January to March, and down 0.7 percentage points on a year ago.

The figures have been broadly falling for several years, and are significantly lower than two decades ago, with no one working in more than one in five (20.9%) households in 1996.

The number of households where everyone over 16 was employed also rose 0.3 percentage points over the quarter to 59.7% of all households.

READ MORE: Unemployment on the rise amid fears the ‘glory years over’

The latest data come during a record period for the UK labour market, with official figures earlier this month showing the employment rate at 76.1%. That marked the joint-highest level since records began in 1971.

But the previous figures also showed the unemployment rate crept up by 0.1 percentage point to 3.9% between April and June, sparking fears it could be the “beginning of the end” for the period of record employment.

One expert warned at the time “the glory years appear to be over,” after leading business index recorded lower hiring intentions and official data showed Britain’s economy shrank in the second quarter.

But the UK employment rate also increased, returning to 76.1%, the joint-highest figure since records began in 1971.

The number of people in work rose by 115,000 to a record high 32.81m.

The unemployment rate has crept up. Photo: AP Photo/Scott Heppell

The apparent contradiction of rising employment and unemployment could be explained by a rise in people both looking for and finding jobs who were previously classed as ‘economically inactive.’

Separate figures on worklessness last month by the ONS showed Hartlepool, Glasgow and Dundee had the highest levels of workless households in the UK in 2017 and 2018.

Windsor, Maidenhead, Harrow and Bracknell Forest had the lowest percentage of workless households.