Further evidence of strong UK economic recovery emerges as employment hits joint record high

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Government figures show the proportion of workers in Britain has hit its joint-highest level since records began over 40 years ago.

The Office for National Statistics said Wednesday that the employment rate rose to 73.1 percent of the population in the three months through May from 72.6 percent in the previous three-month period. The rate last reached that level in February 2005 and hasn't been higher since records began in 1971.

Meanwhile, unemployment fell to 6.5 percent, 0.4 percentage points lower than the previous quarter. The rate is at its lowest since the height of the global financial crisis at the end of 2008.

The figures provide further evidence that the U.K. economy, Europe's third-largest, is growing strongly and reinforces expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates.