Few jobless in Britain, but bleak Christmas for many: top union leader

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-14 04:38:03|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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LONDON, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Britain's unemployment level has fallen to 4.3 percent, the lowest level since 1975, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed Wednesday.

The ONS figures also show that employment remains at a near record high, with 32.08 million people in work. There are also a record number of vacancies, with almost 800,000 jobs available at any one time.

Employment Minister Damian Hinds said: "We're ending the year on a strong note with figures showing the unemployment rate has fallen every month in 2017, and is now at the lowest it's been in over 40 years."

The number of people unemployed is 182,000 fewer than a year ago when the unemployment rate was 4.8 percent.

Latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Britain have increased by 2.5 percent including bonuses and by 2.3 percent excluding bonuses, compared with a year earlier. However, this is lower than the current inflation rate which has risen above 3.0 percent.

Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams, did not think ONS figures painted a rosy picture: "Both employment and real wages are falling while the price of household essentials balloons, leaving millions of people worse off than they were in 2010. Eight million people in working households live in poverty, and many will struggle this Christmas as a direct result of this government's austerity policies."

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) which represents millions of workers, said the figures show real wages falling for the eighth month in a row.

"2017 has been a bleak year for living standards. Real wages have now fallen for the last eight months in a row. And working people will be worse off this Christmas than they were a decade ago. Boosting pay packets should be a priority for the government, not a side issue," she said.