UK employment remains stable

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The employment rate in the UK remains at a near-record high of 74.5 per cent, new figures have revealed.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 31.8 million people in the UK are now in work, which is more than 2.7 million up on the figure recorded in 2010.

Data from the ONS also showed that the unemployment rate has held steady at 4.8 per cent - its lowest point in more than a decade.

The number of people currently in work is 294,000 up on the amount recorded a year ago, with this increase largely driven by an increase in full-time work.

Employment minister Damian Hinds has hailed the findings, describing them as an "encouraging set of figures".

"Employment continues to run at a near-record high, unemployment remains at an 11-year low and both figures are stronger than this time last year, highlighting the strength and resilience of our labour market as we step up to the challenges of 2017," he commented.

Responding to the data, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the stability of the UK's employment market also reflects the resilience of smaller companies "at an uncertain time".

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, stated: "The cost of doing business is rising, and small firms state that increased labour costs are the main cause of this rise. 

"It is testament to their adaptability that they are hiring new staff in a challenging environment and aspire to continue doing so over the coming months."

However, he stressed that they will need support from the government in order to achieve this goal.

Indeed, Mr Cherry stated that since cost pressures for small firms are at a three-year high, it is "critical that the chancellor takes every step possible to help small businesses achieve their employment targets".

"Increasing the Employment Allowance at his Budget on March 8th would be a good place to start," he said.

Mr Cherry added that the figures also demonstrate how prevalent the self-employed are in today's workplaces.

He said the FSB is looking forward to working with the government on measures to protect the self-employed, especially regarding issues such as accessing mortgages, income protection and social security.

"The launch of the Taylor Review last year was a welcome move in this regard and we will be ready to provide evidence for the report," he stated.