Employment surges nationally but picture is mixed in Lancashire

UK employment surged to another record high in the three months to January, but paradoxically, unemployment also rose.

By Tim Gavell
Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 4:45 pm

Wage growth accelerated during the period and vacancies increased, on the back of increased political certainty following the election.

The number of people in work increased by 183,000 to 32.99 million in the quarter, the Office for National Statistics said.

The increase was particularly driven by a jump in the number of women in employment to a record high of 15.66 million.

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Employment is at a record high

However, it was partly offset by the largest fall of people in part-time work for eight years.

Meanwhile, unemployment also increased for the quarter, rising by 5,000 to 1.34 million, nudging the rate of unemployment higher to 3.9 per cent.

This was the first annual increase in unemployment since July 2012 and caused by a 20,000 drop in the number of men unemployed.

On the benefits front, in Preston the number claiming work benefits such as Universal Credit rose one percent on last year to 3,135.

Fylde had 1,120, up 0.7 per cent, Fleetwood had 1,735, up 0.6 per cent and Wyre and Preston North had 730, up 0.5 per cent.

David Freeman, ONS head of labour market statistics, said: "Today's figures show continuing record employment but also a slight rise in unemployment on the year - for the first time since early summer 2012.

"This is because we also see a record low rate for people neither working nor looking for work."

The ONS said there was also a return to wage growth, with average earnings increasing 3.1% in January.

It comes after a steady slowdown in earnings, with wages growing at 2.9% in the previous period.

The jobs market also appeared in healthier shape as the number of vacancies rose by 19,000 to 817,000 for the three months to February.