Unemployment down

Fall in unemployment
Fall in unemployment

New figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that the UK's unemployment rate is down and the general labour market is stable.

The number of people in employment is up slightly and the growth in average earnings (excluding bonuses) is unchanged.

The ONS also states that new figures indicate that the number of job vacancies are up 73,400 on the same time last year and that the employment trend has been upwards, but now appears to be flat.

This quarter, both the number of people unemployed, and those claiming Jobseekers' Allowance are down. Unemployment now stands at 4.7 per cent, slightly down from 4.8 per cent last quarter. 1.41 million people are unemployed, the lowest since records began in 1984, and the claimant count is the lowest since July 1975.

However, the inactivity rate for people of working age (those who are not looking for work) is up to 21.5 per cent and the ONS assesses that "the trend appears to be increasing".

Interestingly, bearing in mind the increasing political focus on the UK's long hours culture, the total number of hours worked per week has fallen to an average of 31.8 hours. This the ONS puts down to a decline in the number of people normally working over 45 hours a week.

The figures were enthusiastically welcomed by the Minister for Work, Jane Kennedy, who said the figures showed that the Government's welfare to work policies are working.

Speaking this morning, she said: "These figures demonstrate the continuing success of the Government's economic and labour market policies. With employment growing, more people are moving from welfare to work and unemployment has fallen to its lowest level for almost thirty years."

"The success of Jobcentre Plus and the New Deal has contributed to a significant fall in unemployment and is increasingly making a difference for our hardest to help customers. Evidence shows that the New Deal for Lone Parents significantly improves the employment chances of participants, while the ground-breaking Pathways to Work strategy is showing extremely positive early results."