The number of employees on UK payrolls rose by 356,000 in June as the labour market continued to recover from the worst of the pandemic, official figures showed.
The increase took the total of payroll employees to 28.9 million but the figure remains 206,000 less than before the crisis with many jobs preserved by government support, the Office for National Statistics said.
The unemployment rate edged down 0.2 percentage point to 4.8% and the redundancy rate fell to pre-pandemic levels. From April to June there were 862,000 vacancies – 77,500 more than the pre-crisis level in the first three months of 2020.
Darren Morgan, the ONS’s director of economic statistics, said: The labour market is continuing to recover, with the number of employees on payroll up again strongly in June. However it is still over 200,000 down on pre-pandemic levels, while a large number of workers remain on furlough.
“The number of job vacancies continued to rise very strongly. The biggest sector driving this was hospitality, followed by wholesaling and retailing.”
The figures show the jobs market bouncing back after the deepest recession in UK history. But some economists are concerned about the impact on unemployment when the government withdraws its support measures.
Amid jitters about rising inflation, annual wage inflation rose to 7.3% including bonuses. The ONS said the numbers were affected by temporary factors such as a reduction in lower-paid jobs and comparison with early in the crisis when wages were pushed down.
With the economy set to reopen completely on 19 July, employers are picking up the pace of hiring, according to job site Indeed. The number of jobs advertised is 13.8% higher than in February 2020 and some sectors such as hospitality and haulage are struggling to hire, it said.
Jack Kennedy, Indeed’s UK economist, said: “With job creation surging and unemployment falling, the labour market recovery is in a strong place and as prepared as it can be for the gradual phasing out of the furlough scheme over the coming months.”