ONS: UK employment rate at joint record high in March

The UK employment rate in the three months to January 2020 was estimated at a joint record high of 76.5%, 0.4 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.3 percentage points up on the previous quarter, according to the latest Labour Market Statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

ONS: UK employment rate at joint record high in March

The data also indicated that the UK  unemployment rate in the three months to January 2020 was estimated at 3.9%, largely unchanged compared with a year earlier and 0.2 percentage points higher than the previous quarter.

Estimated annual growth in average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in the three months to January 2020 was 3.1% for both total pay (including bonuses) and regular pay (excluding bonuses).

The data from the ONS also highlighted that in real terms (after adjusting for inflation), annual growth in both total pay and regular pay is estimated to be 1.5% in the three months to January 2020, down from a recent peak of 2.0% in the three months to June 2019.

There were an estimated 817,000 vacancies in the UK for December 2019 to February 2020; this is 19,000 more than the previous quarter but 30,000 fewer than a year earlier.

Commenting on this month’s labour market statistics update, business minister Jamie Hepburn said: “Scotland’s employment rate rose over the quarter to 74.9% and remains close to the highest on record. The unemployment rate fell over the quarter to 3.5%, also close to the record low, and 0.4 percentage points lower than the UK’s (3.9%).

“The COVID-19 outbreak is an emerging situation for the whole country and will impact on our labour market. The Scottish Government is focused on ensuring workers get as much support as possible from employers and government during this uncertain period.

“Following the UK budget, we have announced additional measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland. This includes a 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 and an £80 million fund to provide grants to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19.

“Businesses receiving support are being encouraged to operate with fair work principles including supporting staff to self-isolate when they need to and if they have caring responsibilities. Ensuring staff who are unwell don’t feel compelled to come into work benefits businesses by protecting the wider workforce.

“We continue to work closely with our partners to identify what further support is needed.”

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