Update: ONS figures show further fall in unemployment across most of East Anglia

The number of people in work reached a new record high in the three months to October, according of

The number of people in work reached a new record high in the three months to October, according of official figures out today. - Credit: PA

The Government was given a pre-Christmas boost on the jobs front today as unemployment fell by almost 100,000 and the number of people in work topped 30million for the first time on record.

Total unemployment fell by 99,000 in the quarter to October, the biggest reduction in more than a decade, to 2.39million, representing a rate of 7.4%, the lowest for more than four years.

The narrower count of those claiming the Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 36,700 on a seasonally-adjusted basis in November to 1.27m, the 13th consecutive monthly decline, while on an unadjusted basis the count was nearly 46,000 lower at 1.22m.

The number of people in work in the three months to October grew to 30.09m, an increase of 250,000 on the previous the quarter and of almost 500,000 compared with a year ago.

However, the figures from the Office for National Statistics also showed that 1.47 million people were in part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work, the highest total since records began in 1992.

Jobseeker’s Allowance claims in Suffolk and north Essex broadly followed the downward national trend in November.

However, the local figures, which are unadjusted for normal seasonal variations, showed a marginal increase in Waveney, where the count grew by eight to 2,189, and Forest Heath, up five to 626, although the unemployment rates remained unchanged at 3.3% and 1.6% respectively. The rate was also unchanged in Mid Suffolk, where the count fell by just 10 to 778, leaving the rate at 1.3%.

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Across the rest of Suffolk, however, rates fell by 0.1 of a percentage point, including Ipswich, where the count fell by 117 to 3,072 (a rate of 3.5%), St Edmundsbury, down 62 to 1,167 (1.7%), Suffolk Coastal, down 44 to 877 (1.2%), and Babergh, down 30 to 898 (1.7%).

In north and mid Essex, claimant counts were down across the board except for Tendring where the total grew by 100 compared with October to 2,838 and the rate by 0.1% to 3.7%. The rates remained unchanged in Braintree, where the count fell by 33 to 1,916 (a rate of 2.1%), and Uttlesford, down 10 to 540 (1.1%) while elsewhere rates were 0.1% lower, including Chelmsford, down 113 to 2,095 (1.9%), Colchester, down 86 to 2,397 (2.1%), and Maldon, down 28 to 693 (1.8%).

Nationally, the record level of employment included an all-time high of 24.4m in the private sector and a slight increase in the public sector to 5.6m, with an increase in the NHS offsetting a fall in local government.

The number of people unemployed for more than a year fell by 33,000 to 866,000, the lowest for more than a year, while youth unemployment dipped by 19,000 to 941,000.

However, in a further sign that people are now working longer before retiring, the employment rate for over-65s is now 10%, the highest since records began in 1992.

Denise Rossiter, chief executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: “The rise in private sector employment since 2010 is both welcome and encouraging and is hopefully a sign of further good things to come in the future.

“We are also pleased to see the rise in apprenticeships within Essex itself which have increased by over 9% in the past year. We have worked with Essex County Council to promote their apprenticeship scheme to employers and congratulate them on their success to date.”

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber, said: “Due to their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit, Suffolk businesses are now showing clear signs of growth. These latest figures make for some positive reading, with private sector employment in the region up by 129,000 on last year’s comparator.

“It is particularly pleasing to see apprenticeship numbers up by 19% in Suffolk, well ahead of the national average. The chamber will continue to work with partners and employers to ensure that the skills agenda stays on the top of the Governments agenda, demanding that initiatives are business focused and business led, so that the business community takes a leadership role in shaping the skills needs of our young people and current workforce.

“The recently launched City Deal in Suffolk will bring these partners together to drive forward the skills agenda with aspiration to make a step change in the years to come.”