Record numbers in work but rate of fall in jobless total slows

Unemployment fell by 63,000 between August and October, to 1.96 million, official figures showed tod

Unemployment fell by 63,000 between August and October, to 1.96 million, official figures showed today. - Credit: PA

A record number of people are in work in the UK but the fall in unemployment is showing signs of slowing, official figures revealed today.

A record number of people are in work in the UK but the fall in unemployment is showing signs of slowing, official figures revealed today.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 30.8million people were in work in the three months from August to October, the highest since records began in 1971 and 588,000 up on a year ago.

Total unemployment fell by 63,000 to 1.96million, although this was the smallest quarterly fall for a year, and the narrower count of those eligible to claim the Jobseekers’ Allowance also continued its downward trend, falling for a 25th consecutive month to 900,100 in November, down 26,900 on the previous month.

Most parts of Suffolk and north Essex followed the national downward trend in Jobseekers Allowance claims, although increases were recorded in some areas as the autumn tourism season wound down.

Despite this, however, Waveney saw the largest decline in Suffolk, with the claimant count falling by 77 to 1,270 and the local unemployment rate by 0.1 of a percentage point to 1.9%. The rate also fell by 0.1% in Babergh, where the county fell by 39 to 484 (a rate of 0.9%).

Smaller falls, relative to the size of working age population, left rates unchanged in Ipswich, were the count fell by 60 to 2,068 (a rate of 2.4%), St Edmundsbury, down 43 to 737 (1.1%), Forest Heath, down 17 to 349 (0.9%), and Mid Suffolk, down one to 584 (1.0%).

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Suffolk Coastal, however, bucked the trend with the count rising by 14 to 526, although this still left the jobless rate unchanged at 0.7%, the lowest in the county.

There was a similar picture in north and mid Essex. In Maldon, the count fell by 28 to 409 and the rate by 0.1% to 1.1% while relatively smaller falls left the rates unchanged in Colchester, where the county fell by 72 to 1,461 (a rate of 1.3%), Chelmsford, down 43 to 1,466 (1.4%), and Braintree, down 12 to 1,260 (also 1.4%).

However, the total in Tendring jumped by 105 to 2,058 and the rate by 0.1% to 2.7% and in the count in Uttlesford the also edged eight higher to 340, although the rate remained unchanged at 0.7%, the lowest in Essex.

Today’s figurs from the ONS also showed that, nationally, long-term unemployment (thouse out of work for more than a year) has fallen by 191,000 to 684,000.

The jobless rate for 16 to 24-year-olds has remained at 16%, while the proportion of self-employed workers has fallen slightly to 14.7% of total employment.

Overall, the UK’s unemployment rate is now 6%, down by 0.2% on the previous quarter and by 1.4% over the past year.

Pay, including bonuses, increased by 1.4% in the year to October, up by 0.4% on the previous month, and higher than the current rate of CPI inflation, which dropped to a 12-year low of 1.0% last month.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “These remarkable figures show that our long-term economic plan to create a better more prosperous future for Britain is working. Behind them are countless stories of individual hard work and determination, with more people than ever before feeling financially secure.

“What we can see at the end of 2014 is that our welfare reforms are ensuring that people have the skills and opportunities to move into work. Whether that’s work experience for young people to get their foot on the career ladder, the benefit cap encouraging people to get a job, or the Work Programme which is helping more people than any previous jobs scheme.

“These figures show that our long-term economic plan to create a better, more prosperous future for Britain is working - with thousands of people feeling more secure over the Christmas period with a regular wage.”

However, GMB union general secretary Paul Kenny said: “This is the fifth Christmas with this Government in power and, while the recovery under way is welcome, it should be much further ahead. There are too many households this Christmas with jobless workers.”

And Chris Jones, chief executive of the City & Guilds Group, said: “It is encouraging to see so many more people in work this Christmas compared to the same time last year. But we shouldn’t let this good news lull us into a false sense of security because the figures tell us only part of the story.

“If we are seeing more people in work, why are we still seeing skills gaps in a number of different industries? And there are still disgracefully high numbers of young people out of work, with no change since the summer. This is no cause for celebration.”