Unemployment falls in last quarter

The number of unemployed people fell by 36,000 in the three months to the end of March to 2.46 million, but the number of women claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance is at its highest since 1996, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The number of unemployed people fell by 36,000 in the three months to the end of March to 2.46 million, but the number of women claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance is at its highest since 1996, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Its figures show that the UK unemployment rate is running at 7.7%, although for young people it stands at 20%. The fall in unemployment rates is in part due to a rise in full-time jobs.

Nevertheless, the ONS figures show that in April the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rose by 12,400 to 1.47 million. Some 9,300 of these were women. The number of men seeking Jobseeker’s Allowance also rose for the first time since January.

The ONS said the number of people in employment rose by 118,000 to 29.24 million in the three months to March with the number of unemployed women falling by 5,000 in this period. The number of people who  have been out of work for more than a year increased by 20,000 to 850,000, the highest number since January 1997.

Ian Brinkley, centre director at The Work Foundation, said: “These figures are much better than expected given the apparent lack of growth in the economy. The [figures show a] strong growth in full-time jobs [which] is especially encouraging, as this is one of the key indicators of a sustainable recovery. It now looks likely that the economy expanded more strongly than last month’s provisional estimates for output growth suggested.
 
“However, the impact on the unemployment totals was modest because so many more people are entering the labour market looking for work. Young people in particular are still facing tough conditions. There is little sign of a significant recovery in the employment for those under 25. Employers looking to hire may be going for experience over youth.”

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: "These are remarkably good jobs figures for an economy passing through a period of fragile recovery and fiscal austerity. The first quarter saw a fall in unemployment for men, women and young people, driven in particular by a welcome rise in the number of people in full-time jobs.

"The news is not all good. Job vacancies have fallen, most notably in the public sector, there has been a rise in claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance, and unemployment has increased in the South West, North East, North West and London. Moreover, with the full impact of public sector job losses still to be felt and the broader economic outlook uncertain it’s far too early to tell if the good news on the jobs front will continue.

"The ongoing real pay squeeze is thus helping an anaemic economy support employment as well as offsetting fears of an inflationary pay-price spiral. If this continues the pain of economic austerity is likely to be observed as a widespread fall in living standards rather than a further sharp rise in unemployment."





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