Number of people in work reaches record high

Emma-Lou Montgomery
Emma-Lou Montgomery
Fidelity Personal Investing12 June 2018

Unemployment fell by 38,000 to 1.42 million in the three months to April, the latest figures show. The ONS said the number of people in work reached a record high of 32.3 million.

The UK unemployment rate remained at 4.2% in the period from February to April, in line with market expectations, according to the Office for National Statistics.

However, while economists had expected wage growth to remain steady at 2.9% it actually unexpectedly slipped to 2.8%.

This slight but important slip in wage growth, is one of the key figures the Bank of England monitors to assess the health of the UK economy. While wage growth is currently above the level of inflation, which stands at 2.4%, it’s some way below the five-year high of 3.1% seen in November.

This latest set of data does suggest an interest rate rise in August is now less likely. But the Bank of England is expecting wage growth to continue to pick up, saying just last month that it expects to see pay growth of 2.75% a year by the end of 2018, rising to 3.5% by the end of 2020.

Today’s data shows that average weekly earnings for employees in nominal terms increased by 2.8% excluding bonuses, and by 2.5% including bonuses, compared with a year earlier. In real terms, average weekly earnings increased by 0.4% excluding bonuses, and by 0.1% including bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

Of course, these numbers are all historic already and for anyone currently working in the beleaguered retail sector - especially those whose jobs are hanging by a thread - there will be little comfort in the news that overall employment rates are rising.

More than 13,000 jobs were put at risk in one day last week, when both department store group House of Fraser and discount chain Poundworld revealed they were at crisis point.

House of Fraser announced a “sink or swim” restructuring plan that will see 31 of its UK stores - including its flagship Oxford Street store - close and Poundworld said it had filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators, giving itself 10 working days to negotiate a sale as a going concern. Just days later it had been put into administration.

If the retail rout continues, June’s ONS employment figures could look very different.

It’s a new world of adapt or die and as a retailer, an employee or as an investor these are yet again uncertain times, full of questions and also of course, opportunities.

Timely then that we have the latest Investment Outlook coming out on Thursday this week. And along with it, your chance to put the questions you have directly to Tom Stevenson, Fidelity’s Investment Director, at our live webcast.

Join us for lunch on Thursday

Join us at our new time of midday on Thursday, for our latest Investment Outlook webcast. As well as taking us through the highlights of his latest Investment Outlook report, which you will also be able to download afterwards, there is the opportunity to ask Tom the burning questions you want answered.

You can submit questions now, just click on the Q&A tab here or live as you watch on Thursday lunchtime.

So join us then.

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