Unemployment drops April-June

Unemployment dropped between April and June in the run-up to the Brexit vote, official figures show.

Those out of work fell by 52,000 to 1.64 million. The unemployment rate remained at 4.9%, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Wages, not including bonuses rose 2.3% in the three months to June, the ONS said.

Including bonuses, earnings growth was 2.4%.

“The labour market continued on a strong trend in the second quarter of 2016, with a new record employment rate,” said ONS statistician David Freeman.

“However, little of today’s data cover the period since the result of the EU referendum became known, with only claimant count and vacancies going beyond June – to July for the former and to May-July for the latter,” he added.

The jobless total is now at its lowest for eight years, while the unemployment rate is at its lowest since the summer of 2005, according to the ONS figures.

The employment rate reached a record high of 74.5%, with 31.8 million people in work in the three months to June – 172,000 more than the previous quarter.

Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said that the UK economy showed “impressive resilience in the run-up to the EU referendum and the immediate aftermath of the vote to leave”.

However, he warned: “It is premature to draw any firm conclusions from this… It remains likely that softening economic activity and heightened uncertainty will take a toll on the labour market over the coming months.”


Employment minister Damian Hinds described the figures as “record-breaking” and said the UK was “in a position of strength”.

“The job now is to build on this success story so that everybody can benefit from the opportunities that are being created regardless of who they are or where they come from,” he added.

Debbie Abrahams, shadow work and pensions secretary, said the fall in unemployment was “welcome”, but accused the Conservatives of presiding over an economy that was “over-reliant on low paid insecure work”.

“If Theresa May is serious about supporting working people, we need to see serious action on tackling low pay and investing in the high-skilled, high-wage jobs our economy needs,” she said.

The ONS said it was 95% confident that the change in the unemployment total for April-to-June is somewhere between a rise of 25,000 and a fall of 129,000.

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