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The unemployment rate was 4.5% in March-May 2017, the lowest level since 1975. The ILO measure of unemployment was 1.49 million people, 64,000 fewer than the previous quarter and 152,000 fewer than the year before.

The number of people in employment was 32.01 million in March-May 2017, 175,000 more than the previous quarter and 324,000 more than the year before. The employment rate was 74.9%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971. 

Average weekly total pay in Great Britain increased by 1.8% in the three months to May 2017 compared with the previous year. Regular pay (excluding bonuses) grew by 2.0%. CPI inflation averaged 2.6% over this period.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced on 23 February 2017 that it is removing seasonally adjusted data on the claimant count from the PDF version of its monthly UK Labour Market statistical bulletin. ONS believes that due to the impact of Universal Credit, seasonally adjusted data on the claimant count “may now be providing a misleading representation of the UK labour market”.

Not only does Universal Credit appears to follow a different seasonal pattern to Jobseeker’s Allowance, but under Universal Credit, a broader span of claimants are required to look for work than under Jobseeker’s Allowance. This has the effect of increasing the number of unemployed claimants. The effect is most visible in areas operating Universal Credit “Full Service” (where rollout of Universal Credit is more advanced).

Most jobcentre areas have not yet moved to “Full Service” but will do so over the course of 2017 and 2018. For more details see the Library’s briefing paper on Universal Credit and the claimant count.  

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