Employers in the UK hired a record number of people in November, indicating that the labour market has withstood the end of the government's furlough scheme and highlighting the Bank of England's predicament as it meets this week to discuss interest rates.
Last month, 257,000 individuals were added to firm payrolls in the UK, the highest since records began in 2014.
Under pressure to confront rapidly rising inflation, the BoE has stated that it must be certain that the end of the furlough scheme in September did not result in an increase in unemployment before raising rates for the first time since the pandemic.
However, the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus variant at the end of November has caused investors to reduce their expectations for a rate hike by the BoE as soon as Thursday, following its December policy meetings.
According to the ONS, part-time workers accounted for the majority of recent job growth.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.2% in the three months to October, down from 4.3% in the three months to September. In the August-October period, employment increased by 149,000, while the number of unemployed declined by 127,000.
The ONS reported that average weekly earnings were 4.9% higher in the first three months of 2020 than in the same period the previous year, the smallest annual increase since March. Earnings were 4.3% higher than a year ago, excluding bonuses, the weakest increase since the three months to February.
In the three months leading up to November, the number of job vacancies reached an all-time high of 1.219 million, albeit the rate of growth in new openings slowed.