East of England: Jobless totals fall

A DROP in jobless totals across the UK and in the East of England offered a glimmer of good economic news today.

In the region, numbers of unemployed fell from 6,000 to 207,000 between January and March, and the unemployment rate stood at 6.7%. Only the south east and south west rates were lower at 6.2% and 6.5% respectively.

Across the UK, jobless totals fell by 45,000 and the number of dole claimants dipped for the second month in a row.

Across the UK, the jobless total was 2.6 million in the quarter to March, the lowest amount since last summer. Meanwhile, the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance last month was down by 13,700 to 1.59 million.

The number of people in work increased by 105,000 to almost 30 million, but this was entirely due to a rise in part-time workers.

Almost eight million people are now in a part-time job, the highest since records began in 1992, and the numbers working part-time because they cannot find full-time work increased by 73,000 to a record high of 1.4 million.

Self-employment is also at a record level of 4.1 million, up by 89,000 since the previous quarter.

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Average earnings increased by 0.6% in the year to March, down by 0.5 percentage points on the previous month because of lower bonuses in the private sector.

The Office for National Statistics figures, released today, show that the number of people unemployed for more than a year increased by 27,000 to 887,000, the worst figure since 1996.

In the three months to March, a third of all unemployed people had been out of work for more than a year.