Unemployment edged down to 4.8% in the first quarter of the year as the job market showed “the first signs of recovery”, according to official figures.
The unemployment rate for the January-March period was down from 4.9% a month earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Separate figures from HM Revenue and Customs showed 97,000 people were added to UK payrolls in April – the fifth consecutive increase.
However, the total number of people with jobs as measured in this way was still 772,000 lower than before the pandemic.
Vacancies in the three months leading up to April hit their highest level since the start of 2020.
These figures allowed the pound to climb above $ 1.42 against the US dollar for the first time since February.
The ONS said: “The latest figures suggest that the job market has been broadly stable in recent months, with some early signs of recovery.”
Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics, said: “The number of employees on the payroll rose sharply in April as the economy began to reopen, continuing to improve from its low of November.”
Mr Morgan said the reopening had boosted vacancies, especially in sectors such as hospitality and entertainment.
However, the overall unemployment figures have been partly skewed by a sharp increase, during the last lockout, in the number of people who are no longer looking for work and who are therefore not classified as “unemployed”.
Meanwhile, wage growth is also accelerating, reaching 4.6% in the three months leading up to March when bonuses were cut.
This is the highest level since 2007 – although this is also partly due to the pandemic …
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This notice was published: 2021-05-18 05:37:00