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Labour Market

Volume 624: debated on Thursday 20 April 2017

The UK labour market is a great success story for this country. The latest labour market statistics have shown that the UK employment level has risen to a near record high of 31.84 million, with the employment rate achieving a joint record high of 74.6%. In particular, the female employment rate is at a near record high of 69.9% while for older workers (50-64) the employment rate has reached a joint record high of 70.9%. The overall unemployment rate has fallen to 4.7%, the lowest rate in over a decade, alongside inactivity which is at a near record low of 21.6%. The employment rate of 16-to-24s who are not in full-time education is at 75.4%, the highest in over 12 years. The proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds year olds who are not in full-time education or employment is down to 5.1%, a joint record low.

Two planks of our approach to continuing to support people into work have been to enable older people to stay in the labour market for longer, and to support disabled people and people with long-term health conditions to move into and stay in work.

In February this year the Government published “Fuller Working Lives: A Partnership Approach”, which set out the ambition to support individuals aged 50 and over to remain in and return to the labour market and tackle the barriers to doing so. Through a combination of headline measures, Government will continue to monitor progress on “Fuller Working Lives”.

In October last year we published “Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper”. This set out the action we intend to take to bring about change across welfare, employers and health systems and invited views on a 10-year strategy for reform. Since publication we have run a 15-week national consultation, which closed in February 2017. We received a great response to the consultation from a wide range of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, and organisations with an interest.