UK unemployment falls to seven-year low

Unemployment has fallen to seven-year low, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment has fallen to seven-year low, according to the Office for National Statistics. - Credit: PA

Unemployment in the UK has fallen to a seven-year low, with a record number of people in work, according to official figures released today.

Total unemployment in the three months to August was down by 79,000 compared with the previous quarter at 1.7million, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The total is the lowest since the summer of 2008, before the start of the financial crisis and the subsequent recession, with the latest fall more than outstripping increases seen earlier in the summer.

The narrower count of those eligible to claim the Jobseeker’s Allowance or the unemployment element of the new Universal Credit increased last month by 4,600 compared with August to 796,200.

But employment increased by 140,000 in the three months to August, to 31m, the highest since records began in 1971, and the increase in average annual earnings grew by 0.1 of a percentage point to 3%, compared with an inflation rate of zero in the year to August.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “This is a fantastic set of figures, which show more people in work than ever before and a strong growth in wages. That is a credit to British business, and a credit to the hardworking people of this country.”

However, his Labour shadow, Owen Smith, said: “While it is welcome that unemployment is falling, after having increased in recent months, concerns over pay and tax credits are growing for millions of British workers.

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“The Tories are actually making the situation worse for low and middle-paid workers, as cuts to tax credits will take an average £1,300 out of the pockets of up to three million working families.”

In contrast with the national claimant count, most parts of Suffolk and north Essex saw a small reduction in benefit claims last month although the figures are not strictly comparable with only the national total being seasonally adjusted.

In Suffolk, small falls left local jobless rates unchanged in Babergh, down 12 to 374 (a rate of 0.7%), Forest Heath, down 19 to 264 (0.7%), Ipswich, down 13 to 1,816 (2.1%), Mid Suffolk, down eight to 450 (0.8%), St Edmundsbury, down seven to 520 (0.8%) and Waveney, down 12 to 977 (1.5%).

The exception was Suffolk Coastal where the count edged four higher last month to 319, although the rate here also remained unchanged, at 0.4%, the lowest in the whole of the East of England.

In Essex, the rate dipped by 0.1 of a percentage point in Maldon, where the count fell by 23 to 346 (a rate of 0.9%), and Uttlesford, down 11 to 273 (0.5%).

Relatively smaller falls left rates unchanged in Braintree, down nine to 1,094 (1.2%), Chelmsford, down 25 to 1,242 (1.2%), and Tendring, down 35 to 1,592 (2.1%). In Colchester, the count nudged up by one to 1,144, but again leaving the local rate unchanged, at 1.0%.