UK jobless total falls

Employment Minister Mark Hoban
Employment Minister Mark Hoban

LONDON – The UK unemployment total has fallen to its lowest level for 18 months while the number of people in work has reached another record high.

The jobless total fell by 37,000 between September and November to 2.49 million, the Office for National Statistics said.

The ONS said the number of people in work had increased to 29.7 million.

The number claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell 12,100 to 1.56 million last month, the lowest since June 2011.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 per cent in the three months to November, down from 7.8 per cent in the previous quarter.

The ONS figures showed that the number of people employed full time rose by 113,000, offsetting a fall in part-time employment of 23,000.

There was a drop in the number of long-term unemployed. Those out of work for more than two years fell by 10,000 to 434,000, while the number out of work for more than a year dropped by 5,000 to 892,000.

However, there was a slight increase in youth unemployment for the first time since last summer. The number of 16 to 24-year-olds out of work rose by 1,000 to 957,000.

Mark Beatson, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said this was “a continuing cause of concern”.

“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,” he said. “It is in employers’ interests to build their future skills base by recruiting the next generation of workers.”

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: “These are very positive figures showing employment rising for 15 months and despite difficult economic circumstances, unemployment is lower than when this government took office.”

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne welcomed the fall in unemployment, but added the figures showed “shaky foundations”.

“Half of the country saw yet another rise in unemployment, nearly half a million people have been on the dole for more than a year, and youth unemployment rose,” he said. (BBC)

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