The UK unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2019, its lowest level since the October to December 1974 period and slightly below market expectations of 3.9 percent. Unemployment dropped by 65,000, the most in more than two years, and employment increased by 99,000 amid Brexit uncertainty. Meanwhile, total pay growth eased to 3.2 percent from the previous period's 3.5 percent, which was the highest rate since mid-2008.
For January to March 2019, an estimated 1.30 million people were unemployed, 119,000 fewer than for a year earlier and 914,000 fewer than for five years earlier. Estimated unemployment rates for both men and women aged 16 years and over have been generally falling since late 2013. For January to March 2019, the estimated unemployment rate: for men was 3.9 percent; it has not been lower since March to May 1975; for women was 3.7 percent, the lowest since comparable records began in 1971.
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There were 32.70 million people aged 16 years and over in employment, 354,000 more than for a year earlier. This annual increase of 354,000 was due entirely to more people working full-time (up 372,000 on the year to reach 24.11 million). Part-time working showed a small fall of 18,000 on the year to reach 8.59 million. Estimated employment rates for men and women aged between 16 and 64 years have been generally increasing since early 2012. For January to March 2019, the estimated employment rate: for all people was 76.1 percent, the joint-highest since comparable records began in 1971; for men was 80.3 percent; slightly higher than for a year earlier (80 percent); for women was 71.8 percent, the joint-highest since comparable records began in 1971.
There were 8.61 million people aged from 16 to 64 years not in the labour force (economically inactive). This was: 69,000 fewer than for a year earlier; 390,000 fewer than for five years earlier. Since comparable records began in 1971, the economic inactivity rate for all people aged from 16 to 64 years has been generally falling (although it increased during recessions). This is due to a gradual fall in the economic inactivity rate for women. For people aged from 16 to 64 years, for January to March 2019, the estimated economic inactivity rate: for all people was 20.8 percent, close to a record low; for men was 16.3 percent; for women was 25.3 percent, the joint-lowest since comparable records began in 1971.
Average weekly earnings rose by an annual 3.2 percent in the three months to March, easing from 3.5 percent in the previous period and missing market expectations of 3.4 percent. Excluding bonuses, they rose by 3.3 percent on the year, in line with market consensus. In real terms, wages grew by 1.3 percent including bonuses and by 1.5 percent excluding bonuses.