Unemployment has fallen by 27,000 in the three months to February, with the jobs market remaining “robust”, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics said unemployment fell to 1.34 million and the number of people in work rose to 32.7 million.

ONS deputy head of labour market statistics Matt Hughes said: “The jobs market remains robust, with the number of people in work continuing to grow.

“The increase over the past year is all coming from full-timers, both employees and the self-employed.”

He added: “Earnings have now been growing ahead of inflation for over a year but, in real terms, wage levels have not yet returned to their pre-downturn peak.”

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The figures showed that average earnings increased by 3.5% in the year to February, unchanged from the previous month.

Matt Weston, managing director at recruitment consultancy Robert Half UK, said the growth in employment was resulting in “intensifying competition for talent”.

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He added: “The demand for highly-skilled workers has led to the emergence of a new trend of ‘professional ghosting’, as candidates feeling the benefits of the burgeoning ‘buyer’s market’ field multiple, competitive job offers – in many cases, abruptly cutting off contact with prospective employers.

“To tackle these difficulties, employers must think about the entirety of their recruitment process, streamlining hiring processes, maintaining frequent communication and offering compelling remuneration and benefits to secure candidates with the skills they need to thrive and grow.”

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