Britain’s jobs market has strengthened further despite furlough ending as the number of payrolled workers jumped by a record 257,000 last month, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics said there is “still no sign” that the closing of the furlough support scheme in September has affected the jobs market, with the number of UK workers on payrolls rising by 0.9 per cent between October and November to 29.4 million.
The unemployment rate fell once more, to 4.2 per cent in the three months to October, which is the lowest rate since spring 2020 and down from 4.3 per cent the previous quarter.
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The ONS said the number of people employed is now 424,000 or 1.5 per cent above levels seen before the pandemic struck.
Vacancies also jumped to another new record – up 184,700 to 1.22 million between September and November, though there were signs of the recruitment crisis easing as the ONS reported an 80,000 drop month-on-month – the first fall since February.
And the number of people across Lancashire claiming benefits because they are out of work or don't have enough work has fallen too.
Nationally 1,919,105 people were claiming benefits such as Universal Credit in November.
In the Blackpool North and Cleveleys constituency, there were 3,170 people claiming in November, or 4.6 per cent of the population. This figure was down 2.7 per cent on November 2020.
In Blackpool South, there were 4,495 claiming or 9.2 per cent of the population, the second highest in the North West, a figures down 3.3 per cent on last year.
Preston had 4,250 claimants, 6.5 per cent of the population in the constituency, down 1.6 per cent on last November.
Chorley had 2,160 claiming, 3.3 per cent of the population, down 1.3 per cent, while Fylde had 1,695 claimants, 3.4 per cent of the population, down 1.9 per cent.
Lancaster and Fleetwood had 2,120 claiming, 3.5 per cent of the population, down 1.4 per cent on last November, Ribble Valley had 1,410 claiming, 2.3 per cent, down 1.3 per cent, while South Ribble had 1,525 claiming, 2.6 per cent, down 1.3 per cent.
Wyre and Preston North had 1,170 claimants, 2.2 per cent of the population there, a figures down 1.3 per cent on last November's figures.
All eyes will now be on the Bank of England on Thursday to see if it will hold off on an interest rates rise in light of the latest figures.
The data showed redundancies below pre-pandemic levels, contrary to initial concerns of a wave of job losses once the furlough scheme ended.
Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics, said: “With still no sign of the end of the furlough scheme hitting the number of jobs, the total of employees on payroll continued to grow strongly in November, although it could include people recently made redundant but still working out their notice.
“The number on payroll is now above pre-pandemic levels right across the country.
“Separately, survey findings show much of the recent growth in employment has been among part-timers, who were particularly hard hit at the start of the pandemic.”
Economist Samuel Tombs, at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the data suggested a “painless end to the furlough scheme”.
He said the figures would likely have prompted the Bank of England to raise interest rates at this week’s decision, “if Omicron had not emerged”.
“Omicron, however, could hit employment in the consumer services sector, which already has suffered from declining demand,” he added.
The ONS figures showed unemployment fell 127,000 to 1.4 million in the quarter to October, while employment lifted 149,000 to 32.5 million.
Average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, rose 4.3 per cent in the three months to October, easing back from the 5 per cent between July to September as the data no longer sees workers coming off furlough and a recovery in their pay.
The British Chambers of Commerce's Head of Economics, Suren Thiru, said: “Record vacancies underscore the severe recruitment crunch facing businesses. Although the changes to Covid self-isolation rules are welcome, with coronavirus and Brexit driving a structural decline in available labour, staff shortages may persistently constrain economic activity."