Employment has increased by more than 3.3 million people since 2010 to a record high of 32.4 million. This is on average 1,000 more people in work every day under this Government. In the recent Budget, the Chancellor was able to confirm that our economy is growing strongly and that we will see increases in opportunities for people to be able to work.
Surely it is not enough for us to stress the record number of new jobs created; we have to convince people that these are real jobs, with workers’ rights being protected, and above all we have to convince people that the pay of indigenous workers is not being undercut by mass immigration.
My hon. Friend is quite right to say that it is really important that we want to build on our strong record of protecting and enhancing employment rights. We are determined to grow full-time high-quality jobs, and that is just what we are doing. The latest labour market statistics show that the number of full-time jobs is up 82,000 on the quarter, up 416,000 on the year and up almost 2.7 million since 2010. That is a record high. The statistics also show that average earnings are rising in real terms.
Notwithstanding the previous question, this country remains the jobs factory of Europe, creating more jobs than almost 12 other nations combined. Will my hon. Friend update the House on the youth employment figures and tell us how they compare with those of our European allies and neighbours?
My hon. Friend makes an important point. This is the future of our country. I am proud to say that the overall level of youth unemployment in the UK has nearly halved since 2010. Our youth unemployment rate is lower than that of France, Spain and Italy. The UK youth unemployment rate is 5.8 percentage points below that of the euro area, and 3.9 percentage points below that of the EU28 average.
As the Minister knows, many of the jobs created since 2010 are low paid and insecure, and the number of people in in-work poverty has risen. Will she therefore tell us what assessment her Department has made of the increase in the use of loan sharks and other illegal money lenders?
I am afraid that the hon. Lady is just factually incorrect. The vast majority of jobs have been full-time, well-paid jobs. I have the honour of representing my home, the area where I grew up, and I can tell her that I have seen at first hand the growth of full-time well-paid jobs all around my constituency since 2010. That is what this Government are delivering all over the country.
We have seen an exponential increase in underemployment since 2010, through the growth of part-time jobs and zero-hours contracts. Does the Minister therefore agree that what we have actually seen is a jobs mirage rather than a jobs miracle?
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is just factually incorrect. We have seen the growth of many full-time jobs, and the number of zero-hours contracts is going down. Speaking as a woman who raised her family, I can tell him that part-time employment can be an extremely good option for many people in our labour market.