Job vacancies outnumber unemployment for first time

The unemployment rate dropped to 3.7% between January and March, its lowest in almost 50 years, as job openings soared to a new high of 1.3 million.

However, wages, excluding bonuses, failed to keep pace with rising prices, a problem that is expected to intensify due to growing food and fuel costs.

The figures show “a mixed picture” said the Office for National Statistics.

Ben Harrison, director of the Work Foundation think tank at Lancaster University, said: “Despite employment continuing to rise, today’s figures underline the challenges facing workers who are seeing inflation eat away at their living standards.”

The data showed that there was a rise in the number of people moving from economic inactivity – classed as those aged 16-64 who haven’t been working or seeking a job – into employment.

At the same time, people moving from job-to-job also reached a record high “driven by resignations rather than dismissals”, said the ONS.

“Total employment, while up on the quarter, remains below its pre-pandemic level,” said Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS.

“Since the start of the pandemic, around half a million more people have completely disengaged from the labour market,” he added.

“However, job vacancies are still rising, reaching yet another record high.”