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Employment rate highest since records began

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There were 31.39 million people in work in September to November 2015, the highest on record

The UK employment rate (the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work) was 74% in September to November 2015, the highest since comparable records began in 1971, according to the Office for National Statistics.

According to the ONS UK Labour Market report, there were 31.39 million people in work – 267,000 more than for June to August 2015, and 588,000 more than a year earlier.

Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD, said that the figures show jobs growth in the UK has recovered. “Demand for labour is still high, as seen by record numbers of unfilled vacancies, and it’s positive to see the supply is there to fill these jobs,” he said. “ Some of that supply is coming from other parts of the EU but the UK unemployment rate continues to fall nevertheless"

However, he added that although more young people are getting into work, unemployment has not fallen among the over-50s. “This is partly because of increasing numbers of people in this age group, but it is also a reminder that older workers can find it especially difficult to find another job if they become unemployed," Beatson said. "As the working population ages it’s important that employers change their approach to workforce planning and open up their recruitment systems to much more diverse talent pools, as groups such as the over-50s can often bring as many unique skills and experiences as those under-25.”

Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, said we have reached an “important milestone” but warned of challenges to come. “This week’s announcement on the closure of more jobs in the steel industry is a prime example of the trials facing workers in 2016 – the need to adapt to suit the new skills we need by retraining now redundant workers.

“The UK jobs landscape is changing. Strong sterling is already severely dampening our ability to manufacture and sell goods overseas. Scotland’s oil industry has been hit hard by falling prices. Meanwhile the IT and technology sectors are booming, with new vacancies opening faster than we can fill them. As the number of jobseekers available to fill new openings decreases upskilling workers will become a crucial component of fixing the skills shortage.”