Around 30.43 million people in the UK are now working, new figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

According to, the number of Brits not in work has hit the lowest level seen in five years, as unemployment fell by 133,000 in the first quarter of this year. This means just 2.2 million people are currently without a job and the unemployment rate now sits at 6.8 per cent.

Wages including bonuses also grew by 1.7 per cent compared with the same period last year, reports However, when bonuses aren’t taken into account, wages only rose 1.3 per cent, which is still below the rate of inflation at 1.6 per cent.

John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, says three-quarters of its members state that wages will rise later this year.

“Today’s fall in the unemployment rate to a five-year low is further positive news on the economy,” he explains. “It confirms what our members have been telling us about their recruitment intentions over successive quarters. The data underlines that small firms are key to getting people into work and it is vital the supportive enterprise environment is maintained to continue the momentum.”

Gerwyn Davies, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD’s) labour market adviser, adds that the skills shortage problem, which is affecting a number of sectors, could soon have an impact on pay. Employers also need to focus on training up their current workers, as well as hiring new ones.