Rishi Sunak said the UK economy was rebounding after the latest official figures showed the number of workers on payrolls increased by 356,000 in June.
As the number of employees remained more than 200,000 below the level before the start of the pandemic, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the easing of restrictions on businesses had an impact on hiring in recent months.
Evidence of an improving labor market was also provided by an increase in job vacancies to 862,000 after an increase of 241,000 between April and June. With companies struggling to find workers in certain sectors, vacancies are 10% higher than at the start of 2020.
Annual wage growth in the three months ending May stood at 7.3% – down from 5.7% in April – although the increase reflects the fact that many low-paid workers have lost their jobs during closures imposed by the pandemic.
ONS Director of Economic Statistics Development Darren Morgan said: “The labor market continues to recover as the number of salaried employees rose sharply again in June. However, it is still below 200,000 from pre-pandemic levels, while large numbers of workers remain on leave.
“Our first, more detailed local figures show that since November of last year, when the number of employees hit a national low, the strongest growth was seen in Leicester, while the smallest was in southern Hampshire.
“The number of vacancies continued to increase very sharply. The main sector responsible for the increase was the hotel industry, followed by wholesale and retail trade.
“As the economy gradually reopened, the unemployment rate fell from March to May. This was particularly marked for the younger ones, who had been hit hardest by previous closures. “
Chancellor Sunak said: “As we approach the final stages of reopening the economy, I look forward to seeing more people return to work and the economy continues to rebound.
“We are rebounding – the number of employees on the payroll is at its highest level since last April and the number of people on leave halved in the three months leading up to May. ”
The ONS calculates the health of the labor market in several ways, using different methodologies and covering different periods.
The most timely measure – the HMRC payroll figures – showed an increase of 356,000 in June. The Labor Force Survey showed employment increased by 25,000 in the three months ending May and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.8%.