The UK’s unemployment rate fell further to 3.8 percent in the three months to February, dropping back to its pre-pandemic level and returning to lows last seen in 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). At the end of January, the unemployment rate had stood at 3.9 percent – its level just before the Covid crisis began in March 2020. There were 86,000 fewer jobless Britons at 1.3million in the quarter, while those in employment increased by 10,000 to 32.5million.
In addition, pay as you earn (PAYE) data showed the number of UK workers on payrolls also jumped last month, up by 35,000 between February and March to 29.6 million.
The sinking unemployment rate has also been hailed by Generation Frexit President Charles-Henri Gallois, who tweeted: “News from the UK from Brexit!
“You were told the apocalypse. They are doing very well! Thanks for them!”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Today’s stats show the continued strength of our jobs market, with the number of employees on payrolls rising once again in March and unemployment falling further below pre-pandemic levels.
“We are helping to cushion the impacts of global price rises through over £22billion of support for the cost of living this financial year.
“We’re also helping people to find new jobs, and ensuring work always pays as this is the best way to support households in the longer term.”
But the latest numbers don’t paint a totally positive picture as they show UK workers suffered the biggest fall in their real pay for nearly nine years as the cost of living crisis began to hit households.
The ONS said regular pay excluding bonuses tumbled 1.8 percent in the three months to February when taking soaring inflation into account – the biggest fall since August to October 2013.
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Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said: “While unemployment has fallen again, we are still seeing rising numbers of people disengaging from the labour market, and as they aren’t working or looking for work, are not counted as unemployed.
“Early estimates suggest there was only a small increase in the number of employees on payroll in March, while job vacancies, although again at a record high, rose at their slowest for nearly a year.
“While strong bonuses continue to mitigate the effects of rising prices on people’s total earnings, basic pay is now falling noticeably in real terms.”