Unemployment in biggest annual fall since 1988

Unemployment fell by 468,000 from July 2013 to July 2014, the biggest year-on-year decrease since 1988, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS UK Labour Market September 2014 report suggests that between May and July of this year there were 2.02 million people unemployed in the UK. This is 146,000 fewer than the period from February to April. The proportion of British adults unemployed is now at 6.2%, the lowest since the third quarter of 2008.

Currently 77.9% of men are in work, which is just below the 2008 peak of 79%. For women employment is higher (68%) than the 2008 peak of 67.1%.

Wages showed modest growth of 0.6% from May to July. This is still well below the inflation rate of 1.5%, announced this week in separate ONS figures.

Chancellor George Osborne claimed that the figures show "another step towards full employment" but admitted there is still "more to do".

Labour shadow employment minister Stephen Timms highlighted the continual slow growth in pay as a concern.

"The new figures have shown working people are seeing their pay fall far behind the cost of living," he said. "Under this government wages after inflation have already fallen by over £1,600 a year since 2010. By next year working people will have seen the biggest fall in wages of any parliament since 1874."

CIPD chief economist Mark Beatson welcomed continued job creation delivering a "big reduction in unemployment".

"At a time when many other European countries are struggling to create jobs, this is a considerable achievement," he said. "However, the new figures also show that pay growth remains very subdued and well below all measures of price inflation, so the improvements in productivity and pay that we are all looking for are still not in sight.

"Employers need to take advantage of the currently favourable recruitment climate to invest in upskilling their business and its people.”