The rate of UK employment increased to 73.1 per cent between March and May, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This means employment rates have returned to the highs recorded in 2004/2005. To date, some 30.6 million are now in work, with the number of employed people rising by 254,000 between March and May, reports Almost one million more people are currently employed compared with the same time in 2013.

Unemployment levels have also dropped, falling by 121,000 over the same period and equating to 21.1 million Brits. As a result, the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.5 per cent, which is the lowest level seen since 2008 (6.4 per cent).

Employment levels rose the most in the North East, increasing by 3.8 percentage points in this region, followed by the East Midlands with a 3.1 percentage point rise. London also saw a modest boost of 2.5 percentage points, writes.

Overall earnings didn’t experience as big a rise though, increasing only by 0.3 per cent in the three months to May. When bonuses are excluded, this figure jumps slightly to 0.7 per cent, but it is still the slowest rate since the ONS began measuring earnings in 2001.