As we enter 2020, we do so after a decade of economic improvement under the Conservatives. The latest jobs figures from December show that there are 3.8 million more people in work since 2010, meaning more families have greater financial security and can plan for the future with confidence.
Our proven track record on delivering on jobs, now means there are 32.8 million people currently in work, with the number of people in full-time work at a record high at 24.2 million, an increase of 3 million since 2010. Thankfully, the risk of a far-left Labour Government that would have wrecked our economy was removed at the ballot box last month, meaning that we can look forward to this new decade with optimism and confidence.
It can feel that our strong economy is now taken as a given, with unemployment at its lowest since the mid-1970s and being exceptionally low in our region. It is only when our economy takes a battering and people suffer because of it, that the economy becomes the top issue raised by people when questioned by opinion poll companies. I would argue it should always be the top priority because we can only sustain and invest in public services when our economy raises the income needed.
As well as a buoyant jobs market that provides opportunity for all, productivity and low inflation is also important. It is great news that wages have risen ahead of inflation for the last 21 consecutive months. Average weekly earnings for employees have increased by 3.5% compared with a year earlier, which is growth of 1.8% after adjusting for inflation.
There is more to do for the lowest paid, so the Conservatives are increasing the National Living Wage year-on-year, taking it up to £10.50 an hour by 2024, giving a full-time worker on the National Living Wage an annual pay rise of over £4,000. We are also increasing the threshold at which National Insurance is payable which benefits everyone in work. This new year and new decade offers great potential and I wish a very happy new year to all.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
1st January 2020