Politics 23 January 2013 What's up with the oddly positive employment figures? The productivity puzzle, again. Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML The latest employment figures from the ONS are out and they're a bit surprising - the number of those in work is up by more than half a million on the previous year, with the largest annual rise since 1989. The employment rate was 71 per cent in the quarter to last November. The "productivity puzzle" continues - strong employment amid a flatlining economy. Neither do the figures help those who have argued that rising employment figures have to date been padded with part time workers - the largest rise in employment this time was in full-time jobs. Philip Shaw from Investec told the Telegraph: "The employment numbers continue to flatter to deceive. The trends in both unemployment and jobs creation are completely at odds with the weakness with much of the real economy data that are being published." There are warnings that the lower unemployment rates come with lower wage growth though: average weekly earnings rose at only a 1.5 per cent rate, down from the previous rate of 1.8 per cent, and the number of self-employed workers has increased to 4.2 m. The secret to the oddly positive jobs data may well be found in these figures. › PMQs review: Miliband says "no" to an EU referendum but Cameron fails to notice More empty seats at the job centre. Photograph: Getty Images Martha Gill writes the weekly Irrational Animals column. You can follow her on Twitter here: @Martha_Gill. Subscribe from just £1 per issue More Related articles The 5 things the Tories aren't telling you about their manifesto Taking back control... in the workplace John McDonnell wants to defend pensioners - but will they return the favour?