Unemployment falls sharply in first three months of 2011

Unemployment for the three months to April fell by the largest amount since 2000, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment for the three months to April fell by the largest amount since 2000, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 per cent or by 88,000 people to reach 2.43 million. The number of people unemployed for over a year fell by 16,000, but the number unemployed for over two years rose by 39,000.

The fall in unemployment was mainly due to people aged 16 to 24 finding employment or moving into full-time education.  

The number of employees and self-employed people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 46,000 on the quarter to reach 1.21 million, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992. The number of people employed in the public sector fell by 24,000 over the quarter to reach 6.16 million but the number of people employed in the private sector increased by 104,000 over the quarter to reach 23.08 million.
However, despite the fall in unemployment, the ONS figures for May show there were 1.49 million people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), up 19,600 on April. The number of men claiming JSA increased by 11,100 to reach 1.01 million and the number of women claimants increased by 8,500 to reach 483,700, the highest figure since September 1996. 

Ian Brinkley, centre director at The Work Foundation, said: “The labour market continues to defy warnings that the economic recovery has come to a halt. Private sector job growth in the three months to April compared with the previous three months was strong and dominated by full-time employment. The fall in “headline” unemployment as defined by the ILO was much stronger than expected, but is driven by more young people going into higher and further education. The recovery is still having little impact on underlying unemployment and groups such as the young and the over 50s still face challenging times. Tougher times may well be ahead, but today’s figures are encouraging”





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