The number of payrolled employees grew 0.6% in December 2021, with 184,000 more employees on payroll compared to the previous month.

There were 29.5 million payrolled employees in December 2021, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

That represented an increase of 409,000 since February 2020, when the pandemic began.

A record number of 1.25m vacancies are available, while the employment rate increased by 0.2% between September and November 2021.

That means 75.5% of the working-age population is either in full-time or part-time paid work.

Professor Len Shackleton, editorial and research fellow at free market think the Institute of Economic Affairs, described the labour figures as "broadly positive".

He said:

"Payroll data suggest employment above pre-pandemic levels and continuing high levels of vacancies. Unemployment rates have fallen again right across the UK, with record lows in some regions.

"There are some worries. Pay is barely keeping pace with inflation, so the big increase in energy bills from April [2022] is likely to hit many working households badly.

"Another concerning aspect is that the numbers of self-employed people continue to fall."

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