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Unemployment falls again as employment rises for over a year

Unemployment falls again as employment rises for over a year

Unemployment has fallen below 2.5 million and is now lower than in Spring 2010, according to official figures released today.

There were falls in the number of unemployed young people as well as a fall in long-term unemployment, while the number of people in work rose by 90,000 and remains at a record level, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The number of people unemployed for more than six months fell by 46,000 compared to the previous quarter, including a 5,000 drop in the number of people unemployed for more than a year.

Numbers of young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell again, and excluding students the number of unemployed 16-24 year olds is 92,000 lower than this time last year.

Minister for Employment, Mark Hoban, welcomed the statistics which show the number of people in work has now been rising for over a year. The UK employment rate is growing at almost double the rate of the US, and faster than any other G7 country.

Mr Hoban said: “These are very positive figures showing employment rising for over a year and despite difficult economic circumstances unemployment is lower than when this government took office.

“It's good to see long-term unemployment falling and the number of young people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance dropping again, while the increase in vacancies shows there are jobs out there.

“But we are not complacent, and will continue making sure we give jobseekers the support and training they need to achieve their goal of returning to work."

Today's figures show:

Unemployment fell by 37,000 over the past quarter, and 185,000 over the past year. It now stands at 2.49m.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 12,100 in the last month, to 1.56m.

Employment rose by 90,000 on the quarter and is at the highest level on record. Employment has risen for five consecutive quarters – over a year.

Women’s employment, at 13.75 million, is at the highest level it has ever been and the rate is the highest it’s been since early 2009.

There are 113,000 more people in full-time work over the quarter, outstripping the 23,000 fall in part-time employment.

Excluding full-time students, the number of young people (16-24) in work rose by 58,000 this quarter.

Long-term unemployment appears to be stabilising, with the number of people out of work for more than 12 months down by 5,000.

The number of people on the main out of work benefits fell by 222,000 since May 2010.

The number of 18-24s on Jobseeker’s Allowance is 62,400 fewer than a year ago.

Our unemployment rate of 7.7 per cent is better than the US (7.8), France (10.5), Italy (11.1), and Spain (26.6), as well as significantly below the Eurozone average (11.8).


Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC, comments: “This is exciting news from the labour market. It would be easy to get distracted by recent headlines around the big high street names such as Comet, HMV and Jessops going under, but the fact remains that the UK jobs market is continuing to improve, the overall trend is one of job creation and we are outperforming our European neighbours.

“It’s important that people don’t declare the sky is falling because of losses at a few firms and to recognise that the picture is varied from sector to sector. For instance, some industries are shifting priorities which leads to job losses in certain specialisms but job creation in others. A good example is the finance sector which has suffered pretty heavy job losses recently but banks are still advertising for new recruits in areas like compliance, regulation and risk assessment.

“Recruiters are right there at the front line of the jobs market and the regular feedback they give us is that employers continue to hire. Small businesses don’t make national headlines but they are where the majority of job creation is going to come from.”

Mark Beatson, Chief Economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development(CIPD), said: “The latest statistics show that the UK labour market continued to perform strongly last autumn.  Unemployment has fallen back below 2.5 million on the back of continued strong jobs growth, specifically in full-time positions. Employers’ continued willingness to recruit and retain staff in the face of uncertain demand conditions will in part be due to continued pay moderation in both the public and private sector.  This has helped maintain competitiveness even during a period of weak productivity growth, as evident in the latest figures for unit labour costs, which fell in the third quarter of 2012. 

“However, a continuing source of concern is the labour market position of young people.  Compared to last month’s figures, the number of unemployed 18-24 year olds has increased whereas unemployment in age groups 25-64 has fallen. If this trend continues we risk a permanent scar on the labour market.  It is in employers’ interests to build their future skills base by recruiting the next generation of workers. But it is also important that young people receive the right careers advice and support necessary to enable them to benefit from employment growth.”

Neil Carberry, CBI Director for Employment and Skills, said: “It is encouraging that more jobs have been created this month than last. It is good news that people continue to find work despite tough economic times, and in particular that 113,000 more people are now working full time.

“It’s especially positive that regions outside the South East, such as the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber are creating the majority of national jobs.

“Pay restraint has played an important role in preserving jobs, and with growth in average weekly earnings remaining subdued at 1.5%, it’s clear that this is a trend that continues.”

Jim Hillage, Director of Research at the Institute for Employment Studies, commented on today’s jobs figures from the Office of National Statistics:

“While the continued rise in people in work can be seen as good news and employment and the total hours worked in the economy are now back above its pre-recession levels, GDP remains 4 per cent below pre-recession levels.

Employers are able to take on more people because real wages have fallen steadily over the past three to four years, as can be seen in the following chart. However, there has not been a commensurate increase in output and therefore productivity per hour has also fallen as hours worked have risen.

While it is good that there is more labour activity in the economy, as work is generally good for people’s well-being, there is a real concern that, contrary to what the Government would like, the economy is starting to  follow a lower productivity, lower wage trajectory. This is unlikely to be a successful route to sustained higher levels of economic growth in the long-run.


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