(Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
(Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

There are more people working than ever, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The employment rate for the UK rose to the highest since records began in 1971, to 74.0 per cent, new figures show.

George Osborne hailed the new figures in a statement, saying:

Today marks an important milestone on the road to full employment. The unemployment rate has fallen below the rate we last saw before the great recession, and now stands at its lowest rate for a decade.

Employment is at its highest rate in our history, there are more women in work than ever before and 130,000 fewer young people unemployed than this time last year.

However, the below chart by Statista, which shows the latest peak, also documents the rise in the numbers of zero hours contracts:

Note: There are two 'y' axes to show overall employment rate and the rate of zero hours contracts

The overall employment rate, documented by the ONS, shows figures for September to November 2015 surpassing previous peaks of 73.1 in August 1974 and also 73.1 per cent in March 2005.

Osborne added:

What’s more, full-time employees make up the majority of the increase in employment over the past year, and wages are growing even before our new National Living Wage takes effect in April.

But this peak has also coincided with the rise of zero hours contracts, which constitute roughly two and a half per cent of those employed.

When the Conservatives took office in 2010 the rate was at roughly 0.6 per cent.

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