UK jobless total defies drop employment to lowest in two years

The UK's unemployment rate has fallen every month during 2017, according to Ministers.

The UK's unemployment rate has fallen every month during 2017, according to Ministers. - Credit: Evening News � 2009

Unemployment in the UK has continued to edge lower despite the biggest quarterly fall for more than two years in the number of people in work.

Employment fell by 56,000 in the three months to October to just above 32m, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the biggest reduction since the three months to May in 2015.

At the same time, total unemployment also fell, by 26,000 to 1.4m, reflecting an increase in the number of people classed as economically inactive.

However, the narrower count of those eligible to claim unemployment-related benefit increased last month by 5,900 on a seasonally adjusted basis to 817,500.

The unadjusted figure nationally also edged higher but claimant counts in most parts of Suffolk and north Essex fell, with the exception of coastal districts were the end of the tourism season saw numbers grow.

In Suffolk, the biggest increase was in Waveney where the count rose by 100 to 2,320 and the local jobless rate by 0.1 of a percentage point to 3.5%. The rate also climbed by 0.1 in Suffolk Coastal, to 0.7%, where the count rose by 25 to 475.

Rates remained unchanged in Babergh, down 20 to 400 (0.8%), Forest Heath, down 10 to 285 (0.7%), Ipswich, also down 10 to 1,700 (2.0%), and Mid Suffolk, unchanged at 440 (0.7%), while in St Edmundsbury a fall of 20 to 760 saw the local rate dip 0.1 to 1.1%.

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In north and mid Essex, rates were unchanged across the board, including Tendring (2.6%) where the count increased by 35 to 2,030.

There were small falls in the count in Braintree, down 25 to 935 (1.0%), Chelmsford, down five to 1,160 (1.1%), Colchester, down five to 1,365 (1.1%), and Maldon, also down five to 340 (0.9%), while in Uttlesford the total was unchanged at 255 (0.5%).

The data from the ONS also showed a continued squeeze on incomes, with average earnings rising by 2.5% in the year to October, against the latest CPI inflation rate of 3.1%.

Employment Minister Damian Hinds said: “We’re ending the year on a strong note, with figures showing the unemployment rate has fallen every month in 2017.”

But shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said: “Both employment and real wages are falling, while the price of household essentials balloons, leaving millions of people worse off than they were in 2010.”