UK unemployment falls to 2.53 million
- 17 October 2012
- From the section Business
The number of people out of work in the UK has continued to decline.
Unemployment fell by 50,000 to 2.53m in the three months to August, taking the jobless rate down to 7.9% from 8.1%.
The number of people in employment rose to a record of almost 30 million, the Office for National Statistics said.
The government said it was positive news, but Labour highlighted the growing numbers of people in temporary or part-time work because they could not get full-time, permanent jobs.
The ONS figures show that some 1.57 million people claimed Jobseeker's Allowance in September, a fall of 4,000 on the previous month.
A combination of more jobs being created and more people entering the workforce pushed the absolute number of people in employment to 29.6 million, the highest since these records began in 1971.
The percentage of people in work rose to 71.3%, the best rate since April 2009.
"It's a real landmark to see more people in work than ever before," Employment Minister Mark Hoban said.
"Despite the tough economic times, the private sector continues to create jobs and our welfare reforms are encouraging people to return to work."
The government also noted that there were more job opportunities available, with the number of unfilled vacancies at 476,000, up 3,000 on the quarter and 17,000 from the same period last year.
Labour questioned the quality of the jobs, however.
"For those people who are in work, more will be on temporary contracts than for a very long time - the highest for 10 years," shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne told the BBC.
"About 60% of the jobs created since the general election are either self-employed or part-time.
"People in Britain are busting a gut and doing whatever it takes to get into work, but it just looks like the government are doing nothing to help them," he said.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the prime minister said the government had responded, but recognised long-term unemployment was still too-high and more needed to be done.
"That is why the Work Programme has helped 693,000 people already and we are prepared to spend up to £14,000 on one individual to help them get back to work," David Cameron said, referring to the government's main scheme which aims to find jobs for those who have been unemployed for more than six months.
This is often contracted out to private firms who get paid for placing people in work.
"We do have the measures in place to tackle this scourge," he said during Prime Minister's Questions.
In reply, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "The longer young people remain out of work, the greater the damage, not just now, but to their long-term prospects and the greater the damage to our economy."
Before the figures were released, the government announced the extension of its New Enterprise Allowance scheme, which it says will help 33,000 more jobseekers benefit from advice from a mentor to draw up a business plan.
The situation also improved for women and young people - two groups that have been particularly hard hit during this recession.
"There are more women in work than at any time in our history and actually the overall level of employment is now above where it was before the crash in 2008," David Cameron told parliament.
The number of women out of work dropped by 19,000 to 1.08 million, while the number of men out of work dropped by 31,000 to 1.44 million.
The number of unemployed 16-24-year-olds fell by 62,000 in the three months to August to 957,000. Almost a third of those are in full-time education.
Average earnings increased by 1.7% in the year to July, which was a small increase from the previous month.
The picture on unemployment differed across the UK:
- In Scotland, unemployment increased by 7,000 to 222,000
- In Wales, the number out of work fell by 7,000 to 125,000
- In England, the drop was 59,000, taking the total to 2.11 million
- In Northern Ireland, the number out of work rose by 10,000 to 70,000
Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland all have unemployment rates above the UK average of 7.9%.