BRITAIN is “breaking new ground” after staggering figures revealed record employment – and spending power rising at the fastest pace for two years.
The Office for National Statistics said the number of people in work leapt by 141,000 to 32.5 million in the three months to November 2018. It’s the highest level since records began in 1971.
Average earnings rose by 3.4 per cent and ‘real’ pay growth – the money in people’s pockets – is up at the fastest rate since November 2016. The ONS added that the unemployment rate fell to a 44-year low.
Ministers leapt on the figures to claim the Government was “delivering an economy that works for the British people”. Experts said the pay growth was still meagre given the decade-long slump.
“It’s like Huddersfield going on a two-match winning streak,” one said. But business chiefs said the staggering figures defied the doom and gloom.
Stephen Clarke of the Resolution Foundation said: “Britain continues to break new ground on job, from employment hitting a record high to economic inactivity falling to a new low.
“A tight labour market, coupled with falling inflation, should deliver stronger pay growth in early 2019, although returning to pre-crisis increases remains a distant prospect.”
Separate figures yesterday revealed government borrowing in the financial year to date so far is the lowest for 16 years – at £35.9 billion.
The jobs ‘miracle’ has stunned the City in recent years given fears of a slowdown and uncertainty caused by the Brexit referendum.
Yesterday’s figures revealed over a third of the jump in employment came among the over 50s – with a further 51,000 getting a job. But employment among 25 to 34 year-olds also rose by 48,000.
The ONS added that the ‘economically inactive’, students, family carers or long-term sick, fell by 100,000 to 8.65 million people.
TUC chief Frances o’Grady insisted much more was needed from the Government and urged Ministers to put the minimum wage up to £10 an hour to help families on the breadline.
She said: “This modest rise in wage growth will do little to help workers still feeling the effects of the longest pay squeeze in 200 years.”