The latest labour market statistics from the ONS have revealed that the UK’s employment rate has hit its highest level ever recorded.

Since ONS figures between October and December last year revealed a fewer amount of people in work, today the ONS has revealed that the number of people in work has increased from January to March.

The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 74.2 percent, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.

On the other side of the spectrum, the number of unemployed people has little changed, but there are now less people not working and not seeking work.

There are now 23.12 million people working full-time, 328,00 more than a year earlier.

Average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain  increased marginally, including bonuses.

Commenting on today’s ONS Labour Market Statistics, Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, says:

“Today’s figures are another good news story for the Government; the UK economy is continuing to generate jobs and help people into work. Although this jobs growth isn’t on the same scale as that seen in 2015, this probably reflects an easing off in economic growth prospects, rather than any more specific economic concerns arising from the EU Referendum next month.

“However, it’s a stern reminder that businesses can only hire in new talent for so long and employers need to be thinking about their long-term skill requirements and the tools needed to up-skill existing staff to prepare for this. The Government needs to be driving this focus on training and development to boost productivity more permanently, particularly among small businesses.

“Average earnings growth is set to be stable at around 2%, which is consistent with data from our Labour Market Outlook survey and from other sources tracking pay settlements.  Again, it suggests that any labour shortages that do exist are not widespread enough to push up overall wage increases. Once the labour market begins to tighten, we would expect to see greater pressure on starting salaries which may act to push other wages in the workforce up. However, given the extra costs that employers are facing through the new National Living Wage and pension auto-enrolment, any increases are likely to be minimal.”

The changes in employment rate might be brought into question soon in the light of the upcoming EU referendum on 23rd June and the introduction of the National Living Wage.

Doug Monro, co-founder of jobsite Adzuna, comments:

“The effects of the National Living Wage are still being felt throughout the UK jobs market.  Many companies have had to adapt to offering higher wages, which may come at the expense of staff benefits. While this may cause some short-term discomfort, it should ultimately lead to happier employees in the long term. Those in work have also seen a boost in wages, which could be a sign of rising recognition of employee value. It’s been a time of adjustment. Now it’s on to the next challenge.

“June’s upcoming EU referendum could be bringing an element of the unknown into the jobs market. Coupled with the impact of a higher wage bill, some employers may be feeling reluctant to invest in new staff. Instead, they’re waiting out until June to see the result. Jobseekers are feeling the impact – advertised salaries in March rose by just £15 month-on-month to reach £33,815 and fell 2% annually. But this plateau isn’t likely to last too long. With summer just around the corner, an influx of seasonal work and graduate jobs could improve prospects and help us move towards a flourishing employment market.”






Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.