Britain, the job-making machine: Unemployment hits a 42-year low of 4.3% as the UK leads Europe
Employment has soared to a record high while joblessness has hit a 42-year low, signalling a fresh humiliation for the architects of Project Fear.
In a report that confounded warnings of a jobs bloodbath after the Brexit vote, the Office for National Statistics said the number in work has risen by 379,000 since the referendum.
Meanwhile, the jobless total has fallen by 175,000 to 1.46million, slashing the unemployment rate from 4.9 per cent at the time of the vote to 4.3 per cent now.
Although subdued wage growth alongside rising prices continues to pile pressure on family finances, analysts described Britain as ‘a great job-creating machine’.
Brexit supporters hailed the report as a sign that the UK continues to prosper, making a mockery of warnings of economic meltdown issued by former chancellor George Osborne and Bank of England governor Mark Carney.
In the so-called ‘dossier of doom’ from by Mr Osborne before the referendum, the Treasury said a vote to leave the EU would cause a painful recession and drive as many as 820,000 people out of work.
And in the immediate aftermath of last year’s vote, the Bank of England predicted that unemployment would rise to 5.5 per cent this year as the economy floundered.
Instead, the ONS said the unemployment rate of 4.3 per cent between May and July this year was the lowest since 1975.
It added the employment rate of 75.3 per cent was the highest since records began in 1971, with 32.1million now in work.
By contrast, average unemployment in the eurozone remains stubbornly high at 9.1 per cent. The jobless rate in France is 9.8 per cent, in Italy 11.3 per cent, in Spain 17.1 per cent and in Greece 21.7 per cent.
Eurosceptic Tory MP John Redwood, a former Cabinet minister, said the latest jobs figures for the UK were ‘great news’.
‘There is no recession and no drop-off in jobs,’ he added. ‘The UK economy is growing and creating a large number of jobs for people and our unemployment rate is very low by European standards.’
Brexit campaigner John Longworth, the former head of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘Britain has the strongest employment record in decades – a far cry from George Osborne’s Project Fear.
‘The Treasury now needs to demonstrate their commitment to Brexit and produce a plan for a post-Brexit economic boom or lose their credibility entirely.’
On a more downbeat note, however, the ONS report showed that rising employment levels have not been matched by stronger wage growth.
Average weekly earnings were 2.1 per cent higher than they were a year earlier. But once inflation is taken into account, real earnings fell 0.4 per cent, tightening the squeeze on family budgets.
But there are hopes that the worst of the squeeze is coming to an end and inflation is expected to peak at around 3 per cent in the coming months before falling.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said it expected the pay squeeze to last until Christmas.
John Hawksworth, of accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: ‘The UK economy remains a great job-creating machine.’
Ian Stewart, of the audit group Deloitte, said: ‘Job creation is a huge UK success story. Despite Brexit uncertainties and slower growth, the UK continues to generate ever lower unemployment.’
September 13th, 2017: Daily Mail