According to the ONS, the UK labour market continued to grow strongly at the end of 2018, against a backdrop of tepid economic growth and heightened uncertainty.
The employment rate stood once again at a record high, and unemployment remained low.
The unemployment rate remained broadly unchanged, standing at 4.0%. And a faster rise in vacancies means that the number of job seekers per vacancy (1.6) is the lowest since records began.
A record employment rate and an increasing difficulty to fill jobs are further signs that the labour market remains tight.
Despite the increasing tightness in the labour market, pay growth stalled. But it is still stronger than it has been for almost a decade, giving some relief to households’ budgets. The route to sustaining stronger pay growth remains a revival in productivity growth, rather than the fits and starts that we’ve seen since the financial crisis.
The UK’s weak productivity underlines the need for the government to work with business to encourage more investment in new technologies, skills and infrastructure. With the fog of political and economic uncertainty remaining thick, it’s important that politicians do not lose sight of this major challenge to the UK economy.
Across the UK, most regions and nations have seen an increase in employment, while unemployment has remained broadly unchanged.