Unemployment rate falls to 6.9 per cent

The unemployment rate fell by 77,000 to 2.24 million between December 2013 and February 2014, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The official unemployment rate now stands at 6.9 per cent, the lowest since February 2009.

Key employment data:

  • 30.39 million people were in work between December 2013 and February 2014
  • This is 691,000 more people than in the same period a year earlier
  • 72.6 per cent of people between 16 and 64 were employed between December 2013 and February 2014.

The labour market statistics also show that average weekly pay including bonuses increased by 1.7 per cent between December 2013 and February 2014.

With the exception of two months in 2010, this is the first time that average wages have grown faster than inflation since 2008. The ONS announced yesterday that consumer price inflation was 1.6 per cent in March 2014.

Key wages data:

  • Total private sector pay including bonuses rose 2 per cent 
  • Total public sector pay including bonuses rose 0.9 per cent,
  • Excluding financial services, total public sector pay including bonuses rose 1.3 per cent.

John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"Today's figures highlight the ambition of small businesses and their desire to expand headcounts as we move into a sustained period of confidence.

"The news about staff pay is also good with the gap between inflation and wages narrowing. Our members tell us they are now increasing wages after several years of pay restraint and we expect this to continue."