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Minister welcomes another fall in unemployment

Minister welcomes another fall in unemployment

The number of people who are unemployed has fallen again and there are more people in work, according to new official statistics published today.

Minister for Employment, Mark Hoban, welcomed the figures from the Office for National Statistics which show that unemployment fell 49,000 this quarter to 2.51 million - 110,000 lower than this time last year.

Youth unemployment has also fallen by 49,000 this quarter to 963,000. The figure sits at 648,000 when people in full-time education are excluded from the statistics.

The number of people in employment has also risen by 100,000, with 29.58 million people now in work – up by over half a million compared to the same period last year.

Minister for Employment, Mark Hoban, said:

“Another rise in employment shows there are jobs out there. We'll work with people who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and help them get a job.

"Unemployment in the UK is well below levels in the Eurozone, the European Union and is lower than in the United States, showing that our welfare reforms are helping the UK compete effectively in the global market place.

“The fall in youth unemployment is particularly welcome, although we’re not complacent about the scale of the challenge still facing us.

“We’re working hard to help the long-term unemployed back into a job. That’s why we’ve committed to supporting the hardest-to-help people over a two year period through the Work Programme so that we can help them overcome their barriers to work and get them into sustainable jobs.”

The figures also show that the number of people who are classed as inactive – people who are not looking for work - has fallen by 25,000 this quarter, with the number of people inactive due to long term sickness falling by 83,000.

The number of people on the main inactive benefits such as incapacity benefit, Employment and Support Allowance or Lone Parent Income Support has fallen to 3 million - the lowest figure in nearly 20 years.

This month the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) rose by 10,100, but the total is still 10,900 lower than a year ago. This reflects that welfare reforms – including the reassessment of incapacity benefit claimants and rules on lone parents claiming income support – mean more non-working people are transferring to JSA from other benefits.

Mr Hoban added:

“These figures suggest that our welfare reforms are working, with fewer people on long-term sickness benefits and more people either in or looking for work.”

The number of UK nationals in work has risen by 455,000 over the last year, accounting for nearly 90% of the total rise in employment. The employment rate of UK nationals is now 71.9% compared with 68.6% for foreign nationals.

The number of vacancies open at any one time has also risen this quarter to 479,000 – up 16,000 compared to this time last year.

The regional picture is also encouraging with more people in work in the North East, North West, London, Yorkshire and Humber, the West Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland. Unemployment fell in the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands, the South West and Wales.

Full-time employment is up 51,000 this quarter and the number working part-time rose 49,000. More than 80 per cent of people working part-time do so because it suits their needs.

Commenting on the news:

Continued fall in unemployment driven by employers’ focus on labour costs, says CIPD

Commenting on the latest ONS Labour Market statistics released today, Gerwyn Davies, Labour Market Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), comments: “Employers have continued to focus on keeping labour costs down and a combination of pay restraint and a higher proportion of part-time and temporary work has enabled them to take on more staff. Of particular note this month is the disproportionately large increase in part-time employment. Almost half of the employment increase is due to part-time employment, and almost all of this increase is accounted for by women.”

“Despite the positive headline figures, the high proportions of part-time and temporary work suggest that many employers remain cautious about adding to their long-term cost base. Business confidence has improved in recent months but is still fragile. So while we may see further short-term increases in employment - as indicated in CIPD’s Labour Market Outlook– it may be some time before this translates into the permanent positions that most job-seekers prefer.”

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Phillip Venn, Commercial Director at Boox, on the unemployment figures released this morning.

“The number of self-employed people in the UK fell by 11,000 to 4.19million according to unemployment figures released this morning.”

“The reality is that the self-employed market still represents almost 12% of the entire working population which contributes more to the UK economy than the manufacturing and construction industries combined. The self-employment market is an option for all economic climates and not just a declining one therefore the government and industries must have a greater understanding of how and why this type of employment exists. An example of this lies within finances for self-employed and how they are handled. We see a number of issues around gaining financial support from banks but also many of the self-employed are becoming increasingly confused by accounting administration, a legal requirement for their businesses and we question whether this is becoming a barrier to setting up on their own.”

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Financial services sector is building the skills of the future

The latest set of unemployment figures from the Office of National Statistics shows a further downward trend. Unemployment was down by 49,000 on the last quarter, at 2.51m people or 7.8 %.

However although there has also been a reduction in youth unemployment, this is still worryingly high at 20.7%. Many commentators believe that that a significant proportion of the new jobs created may not be & lsquo;real’ or long-term jobs, but temporary and insecure ones, for example created to fill the temporary requirements of one-off events such as the Olympics and the Royal Jubilee. There are two further trends which may be masking a continuing lack of good employment opportunities, the rise in part-time positions taken up by those actually seeking full-time work, and a rise in the number of self-employed.

Liz Field, CEO of the independent trade body the Financial Skills Partnership (FSP), comments: “Many are worried that not enough jobs are being created that offer real potential for career progression and personal growth. However, truly progressive and successful organisations in the financial services sector, and in the UK generally, have continued to invest in creating high quality skills-based opportunities for the long term.

“Companies in our sector have been opening their doors to young people at school or in college, giving them a potentially life-changing insight into the choice of careers available in the sector through work experience, taking on school leavers as apprentices and helping them to gain valuable and transferrable industry-standard qualifications, and giving new graduates a helping hand into long-term careers through FSP’s new Graduate Foundation College.”

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Paul Halliwell, Managing Director of Fish4jobs, comments on the ONS Labour Market Statistics for November 2012, released today:

"It is encouraging to see the rate of unemployment continuing on a downward trend in the last quarter, although a 10,000 increase in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance between September and October is concerning.

“Fish4jobs data shows 26% more live vacancies across the country than last year however, our research tells us that jobseekers need practical help and advice on important points such as formatting a CV, applying for a job online and preparing for an interview in order to even approach the workplace. Sadly this 'hands on' support is rarely provided satisfactorily at Job Centres or through the Government’s Work Programme.”

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Nigel Meager, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, on today’s jobs figures from the Office of National Statistics:

“Today’s figures are further good news, suggesting gentle but continued improvement in the labour market situation. The only reason for caution lies in the October claimant count which rose slightly for the first time since the late spring. This indicator is more up-to-date than the others, raising the question of whether the picture will worsen again once the impact of factors such as the summer Olympics drops out of the data.

"Overall, however, the figures show how resilient the UK labour market has been in the face of recession and savage spending cuts. GDP remains 4 per cent below pre-recession levels, but employment is now back above its pre-recession level. It’s true that more of the jobs are part-time, but even allowing for this, the total number of weekly working hours in the economy is now also back to pre-recession levels.

"There is still a long way to go, of course, on the unemployment front. The working age population has grown by over 1.5 million since the start of the recession, so the recent good employment performance is not nearly enough to get unemployment down to pre-recession levels. This could take several years of growth to achieve.

"The other sting in the tail of the good employment performance relates to productivity. We now have more people working than before the recession, between them working the same number of hours as before the recession, but if the GDP figures are correct, they are producing significantly less than before. Labour productivity is falling, and real wages are also falling. There is a real concern that, as the economic recovery continues, the UK will follow a lower productivity, lower wage trajectory than before, and raises the question of whether we may now be starting to seeing the impact of years of under-investment in skills and capital.”

Today’s data from the Office of National Statistics suggest that the pick-up in the UK labour market is continuing. Nearly all of the headline indicators recorded positive moves.

Employment is up by 100,000 in the quarter to September 2012, evenly split between full-timers and part-timers, although self-employment which has been growing strongly for the last year fell slightly.

Unemployment fell by 49,000 in the quarter to September 2012, leaving the total at 2.51 million. The more recent figure for those claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance increased slightly, however, by 10,100 in October, to 1.58 million.

The data also suggest improvements in labour demand from employers, with redundancies down by 22,000 on the previous quarter, and unfilled vacancies slightly up on the quarter (by 16,000).

Total weekly hours worked in the economy grew over the quarter to 945.3 million, almost reaching the pre-recession peak of February 2008.

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