Figures recently published by the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment has dropped below 7% for the first time since the recession and employment has seen the biggest annual jump in a generation.

Unemployment fell by 77,000 in the last 3 months, taking the unemployment rate to 6.9% for the first time since 2009.

In the largest annual rise in nearly 25 years, the number of people of people in a job rose by 691,000 – more than double the population of Newcastle – bringing the record number of people in work to 30.39 million.

Wages also rose on the year by 1.7%, against yesterday’s announcement that March’s inflation had dropped to 1.6%, and job vacancies rose again, up 108,000 over the past year bringing the number of vacancies in the UK economy to 611,000. The 1.7% increase in wages includes bonus payments, without bonuses the rate of increase is 1.4%, still below the rate of inflation.

Minister for Employment Esther McVey said:

More young people are in work, more women are in work, wages are going up, and more and more businesses are hiring – and it’s a credit to them that Britain is working again.

But there is still more to do – which is why I’d go even further and call on more employers to work with us to tap into the talent pool the UK offers.

The number of people in work has increased by 1.5 million since 2010 – over a million of these jobs are full-time – and the employment rate is now 72.6%, showing the government’s long-term economic plan to back enterprise and businesses so they can create jobs is working.

The proportion of women in work also hit a new record of 67.6% – the highest since records began.

Long-term unemployment is down 93,000 on the year, which is the largest annual fall since 1998. The number of unemployed young people also fell, by 38,000 over the last 3 months, and has been falling now for the last 7 months.

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