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Record 32.4m people in work as average earnings reach highest level for 10 years

By Alan Jones, Press Association Industrial Correspondent

Record numbers of people are in work and average earnings are at their highest level for a decade, new figures reveal.

Employment increased by 79,000 in the three months to October to 32.4 million, the highest since records began in 1971.

Unemployment also increased, up by 20,000 to 1.38 million after a big increase in the number of men out of work, although the total is still 49,000 lower than a year ago, the Office for National Statistics said.

The UK’s jobless rate is now 4.1%, 0.2% lower than a year ago.

The ONS also reported that average earnings increased by 3.3% in the year to October, up from 3.1% the previous month.

It was the highest figure since 2008, and is more than the latest inflation rate of 2.4%.

(PA Graphics)

The ONS said average weekly earnings, adjusted for price inflation, increased by 1.1%, including bonuses, compared with a year ago.

The increase in both unemployment and employment is explained by the UK’s rising population, and fewer people classed as economically inactive, which includes those on long-term sick leave, students, and people who have given up looking for a job.

The number of economically inactive people fell by 95,000 in the latest quarter to 8.6 million.

ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes said: “The employment rate has continued to rise in the most recent three months, returning to a joint record high, boosted by an increase in full-time workers.

“There was a corresponding fall in the inactivity rate, while the unemployment rate was virtually unchanged.

“Real earnings are now growing faster than at any time since around the end of 2016.”

(PA Graphics)

Job vacancies were up by 10,000 on the quarter to a record high of 848,000, the ONS reported.

Staffing levels at the Department for Exiting Europe and Department for International Trade increased by 440 over the past year to just over 2,000.

Employment Minister Alok Sharma said: “Today’s statistics show the enduring strength of our jobs market, with wages outpacing inflation for the ninth month in a row and employment at a record high.

“This is benefiting people across the country, with almost 400,000 more people in work in the last year, putting more money in the pockets of working families, and showing the UK remains a great place to invest and do business.”