BRI­TAIN’S JOBS BOOM - THANKS TO WOMEN

As ONE MIL­LION more are in work since Brexit vote...

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By James Bur­ton Chief City Cor­re­spon­dent

THE num­ber of Bri­tons in work has soared by more than a mil­lion since the Brexit vote – and women are lead­ing the way.

De­spite Project Fear pre­dic­tions of huge job losses, a record 32.81 mil­lion peo­ple are in em­ploy­ment, up from 31.75 mil­lion in June 2016 when the EU ref­er­en­dum was held.

It means nearly 1,000 adults a day have joined the work­force in the past three years.

A record 15.55 mil­lion women are in work – an em­ploy­ment rate of 72.1 per cent. In the year to June, an ex­tra 322,000 women took up work, while male em­ploy­ment rose by only 103,000 – mean­ing three in ev­ery four new work­ers were fe­male.

At the same time, the num­ber of stay-ath­ome moth­ers has fallen to an all-time low.

The fig­ures are in stark con­trast to pre­dic­tions made by the Trea­sury at the time of the ref­er­en­dum un­der for­mer chan­cel­lor Ge­orge Os­borne. In a re­port dubbed the ‘dossier of doom’, Mr Os­borne’s depart­ment had warned the un­em­ploy­ment rate would rise to 7.6 per

cent in a ‘se­vere shock sce­nario’ if Bri­tain voted to leave the EU, say­ing 820,000 more would be un­em­ployed in that event.

In fact, of­fi­cial fig­ures pub­lished yesterday showed that the un­em­ploy­ment rate is 3.9 per cent – down from 4.9 per cent at the time of the ref­er­en­dum. There are now 1.33 mil­lion un­em­ployed peo­ple in the UK – or 314,000 fewer than when the ref­er­en­dum was held.

The cur­rent em­ploy­ment rate is 76.1 per cent – its joint high­est level since records be­gan in 1971.

Brexit-back­ing Tory MP Iain Dun­can Smith said: ‘The em­ploy­ment fig­ures show yet again that these pre­vi­ous pre­dic­tions were Project Fear. These peo­ple know no more about what the future will hold than a sooth­sayer liv­ing out of a cave.’

The Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics fig­ures also showed wages are ris­ing at their fastest rate in 11 years. The av­er­age wage is now £27,976 – 3.7 per cent higher than a year ago and the fastest growth rate since June 2008.

Wages are grow­ing sig­nif­i­cantly faster than in­fla­tion, which stands at 2 per cent – mean­ing pay pack­ets are stretch­ing fur­ther.

Chan­cel­lor Sa­jid Javid said: ‘The fig­ures are an­other sign that de­spite the chal­lenges across the global econ­omy, the fun­da­men­tals of the Bri­tish econ­omy are strong as we pre­pare to leave the EU.’

Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd said: ‘Women of all ages are in­creas­ingly break­ing into tra­di­tion­ally over­looked sec­tors and more are tak­ing up em­ploy­ment in higher-skilled roles – show­ing no job or in­dus­try is off lim­its. It shouldn’t be a sur­prise to see women on a build­ing site or on the board of di­rec­tors.

‘While we see a record num­ber in work, in­clud­ing older women, mak­ing for the most gen­der and age-di­verse work­force on record, we still have a long way to go to achiev­ing equal­ity.’

The ONS fig­ures reveal that only 1.78mil­lion women now look af­ter their fam­ily or home in­stead of work­ing, a fall of 352,000 since the Tories came to power in 2010.

Some have been head­ing to well­paid jobs once dom­i­nated by men. About 1.11 mil­lion women now work in pro­fes­sional, sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal ac­tiv­i­ties, up by 311,000 over the past nine years.

But the fig­ures also sug­gest that many women are try­ing to jug­gle child­care and paid work, with a 70 per cent in­crease in those in part­time, self- em­ployed roles since 2006. And 671,000 women have a sec­ond job, com­pared to only 466,000 men. Much of the fe­male em­ploy­ment growth has been driven by a surge in the num­ber of over-50s who are work­ing, to a record 5.02 mil­lion women.

Some of this is likely to be due to higher num­bers of women choos­ing to work longer be­cause of im­prov­ing health in later life. But oth­ers are likely to have been left with no choice due to in­creases in the fe­male state pen­sion age,

‘A life­line for the econ­omy’

which has risen from 60 to 65.

Econ­o­mists last night wel­comed the fig­ures, say­ing they sug­gested de­mand for work­ers re­mained strong de­spite sep­a­rate sta­tis­tics ear­lier this month which showed the econ­omy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the sec­ond quar­ter of this year. The first quar­terly de­cline for seven years, it is thought to have been trig­gered by a global slow­down and jitters ahead of Brexit.

Econ­o­mists are hope­ful of a re­turn to growth this quar­ter, which would mean the coun­try avoids a re­ces­sion.

Tej Parikh, chief econ­o­mist at the In­sti­tute of Di­rec­tors, said: ‘The jobs mar­ket re­mains a source of strength for the UK econ­omy, though it may now be reach­ing its peak. High em­ploy­ment has proved a life­line for the econ­omy in a dif­fi­cult pe­riod.

‘With so many peo­ple in work, solid house­hold in­comes have kept con­sumer spend­ing fairly buoy­ant while the pro­duc­tion and con­struc­tion sec­tors have waned.’

Some an­a­lysts fear there could still be se­ri­ous prob­lems if Bri­tain leaves the EU with­out a deal later this year, and Mrs Rudd would not rule out job losses. In Novem­ber last year, the Bank of Eng­land sug­gested that in a worst- case sce­nario, the econ­omy could shrink by 8 per cent and un­em­ploy­ment could hit 7.5 per cent.

Asked by ITV News if there could be No Deal job losses, Mrs Rudd said: ‘There are no guar­an­tees about jobs, in or out, un­der any eco­nomic cir­cum­stances.

‘A No Deal Brexit is def­i­nitely go­ing to be a chal­lenge for the econ­omy, which is why the Gov­ern­ment is putting to­gether so much prepa­ra­tion, should it come to that. And we’re very clearly fo­cused as a Gov­ern­ment that we want to get a deal.’

The num­ber of EU cit­i­zens work­ing in the UK rose by al­most 100,000 over the past year – un­der­min­ing claims that busi­ness and in­dus­try would be short of work­ers be­cause Brexit would de­ter peo­ple from mov­ing to Bri­tain.

SHORTLY be­fore the 2016 ref­er­en­dum, the Trea­sury is­sued a chill­ing fore­cast about ‘the im­me­di­ate eco­nomic im­pact of a vote to leave the EU’. Fa­mously char­ac­terised by Leave sup­port­ers as Project Fear, it of­fered two sce­nar­ios, one en­ti­tled ‘shock’, the other ‘se­vere shock’.

The whole thing might as well have been headed: ‘Don’t do it. Or else!’

Even the more op­ti­mistic as­sess­ment had a 3.6 per cent col­lapse in GDP and a 500,000 spike in un­em­ploy­ment. In the other, 800,000 would be thrown out of work.

Three years on, we know just how wildly in­ac­cu­rate those fore­casts were. In­stead of the pre­dicted ‘pro­found and im­me­di­ate’ slump, we’ve seen an un­prece­dented em­ploy­ment boom.

Fig­ures re­leased yesterday show that since ref­er­en­dum day, more than a mil­lion ex­tra peo­ple have found work, with pay growth hit­ting an 11-year high.

And al­though Brexit un­cer­tainty may have con­trib­uted to weak eco­nomic fig­ures in re­cent months, UK growth has con­sis­tently out­stripped that of other Euro­pean coun­tries since 2016.

There is still an ar­gu­ment over whether the pro-Re­main Trea­sury made an hon­est mis­take, or was sim­ply scare­mon­ger­ing.

But as Next boss Lord Wolf­son re­minded us yesterday, nei­ther side came out of that ref­er­en­dum cam­paign smelling of roses.

To­day, sim­i­lar pre­dic­tions of eco­nomic Ar­maged­don are fo­cused on a No Deal Brexit. Boris John­son has said he doesn’t want this out­come, but it’s be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly real pos­si­bil­ity.

Al­though a Leave voter, Lord Wolf­son was orig­i­nally among the catas­trophists, warn­ing that ‘crash­ing out’ would bring in­stant dis­as­ter.

In a dis­tinct change of tack, how­ever, this retail big beast now says No Deal is man­age­able be­cause of im­proved prepa­ra­tions un­der the new Tory lead­er­ship.

Let us be clear. This pa­per has al­ways ar­gued that No Deal would cre­ate huge dis­rup­tion and is to be avoided if at all pos­si­ble. But un­less the EU re­siles from its mule-headed in­tran­si­gence over re­open­ing the failed with­drawal agree­ment, No Deal may hap­pen by de­fault.

If it does hap­pen, we are un­doubt­edly in for a pe­riod of chaotic un­cer­tainty. But we will not – as some love to sug­gest – be crushed by it.

Yesterday’s fig­ures prove that only a fool would bet against Bri­tain’s abil­ity to adapt and thrive.

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