The new Conservative government has received a post-election boost as figures show the number of people in employment is at a record high.
Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that the number of people categorised as employed hit a high of 73.5% in March, the highest comparable rate to the number of unemployed people since records began in 1971.
The ONS reported unemployment at 5.5% for the period of January to March, the lowest figure recorded since mid-2008. Employment agency Reed also reported a 19% rise in the number of jobs advertised in the week following the election, the agency’s largest single-week rise since January.
Wages during the first three months of the year increased by 2.2%, exceeding the Consumer Price Index rate of 0%. A 0.5% growth in production was also reported for March, contributing to a stronger than expected 0.1% in growth for the first quarter of the year.
The UK was the third fastest-growing major economy in 2014 behind China and India, indicating the deft economic handling that underpinned this month’s Conservative majority. The improving economy and increases in lower-paid and flexible forms of employment, such as apprenticeships and zero-hours contracts, contributed to businesses reporting their highest profit levels since the 2008 recession.
Meanwhile Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, has warned of a ‘looming jobs crisis’ as the number of vacancies outstrips the number of skilled employees.
He said: “For the last two and a half years we’ve seen month on month increases in the amount of people getting permanent roles. However, we question how sustainable this jobs boom is as skill and talent shortages become rife. The availability of staff has been falling for two years, with 40% of recruiters saying that the situation is getting worse month on month. We urge the new government to start to tackle the UK’s looming jobs crisis.”