Rise in full-time female workers boosts employment

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A record number of women in full-time work has pushed the UK’s employment rate to a new high of 76.3%, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

In the three months to November, 126,000 more women worked full-time compared with the previous quarter.

The increase is in part because of the change in women’s retirement age.

The record figure may reduce the likelihood that the Bank of England will cut interest rates next week.

A record 32.9 million people are in employment in the UK, a rise of 0.5% for the three months to November.

“The employment rate is at a new record high, with over two-thirds of the growth in people in work in the last year coming from women working full-time,” said ONS head of labour market and households, David Freeman.

“Self-employment has also been growing strongly, and the number of people working for themselves has now passed five million for the first time ever,” he said.

The unemployment rate was barely changed at 3.8%.

Unemployment is one of the closely watched metrics that guide the Bank of England in deciding whether to rise or lower interest rates.

Weaker jobs growth or higher unemployment would have made a cut in rates more likely at next week’s Monetary Policy Committee.