The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there were 197,000 more people in payrolled employment last month compared with April, the highest rise since records began in 2014.
It came as the unemployment rate fell again to 4.7% in the three months to April, down from 4.8% previously. But unemployment remained high among the young and those in based in London.
Sam Beckett, ONS head of economic statistics, said: “The number of employees on payroll grew strongly in May, up by almost 200,000, although it is still over half a million down since the pandemic struck.
Unemployment rose sharply last year as the UK went through successive lockdowns, but it has gradually fallen in 2021 as restrictions are eased. Firms appear to be expanding again, with the number of job vacancies in most industries above pre-pandemic levels in May, according to the ONS. Similarly, the redundancy rate is back to levels seen before the spread of coronavirus.
However, the number of workers on company payrolls in the accommodation and food services sector, aged under 25, or living in London remains “well below” pre-pandemic levels, the ONS said.
There are a number of upbeat indicators in today’s jobs figures. Granted the latest estimate of the number on employers’ payrolls remains over half a million below its pre-pandemic level. The living standards think-tank the Resolution Foundation also estimates there are still 2.8 million people who remain on furlough and self-employed income support schemes who need to find work as support is withdrawn said Andy Verity Economic correspondent in BBC.