Jobless figures on the down and up

Dec 19 2002 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The number of jobseekers claiming unemployment benefit has fallen to a 27-year low while the level of people in work has increased to a record high.

The claimant count fell by 6,200 last month to 934,200, the lowest since 1975, giving a jobless rate of 3.1 per cent. The number of people in work increased by 105,000 between August and October to 27,759,000, the best figure since records began in 1984.

But the International Labour Organisation unemployment total, which includes people not eligible for benefit, increased by 19,000 between August and October to 1,532,000. The figure, which is preferred by the Government as a true measure of people looking for work, has increased by 44,000 over the past year.

The data from the Office for National Statistics also showed that the increase in the number of people in work in the latest three months was entirely because of a rise in part-time jobs. There was a fall of 5,000 full-time workers and an increase of 110,000 part-timers - the biggest quarterly rise for six years.

Average earnings increased by 3.7 per cent in the year to October, down by 0.1 per cent from the previous month. Wage growth in the public sector continued to outpace increases in private firms.

The number of people claiming benefits is 24,400 lower than a year ago, while the jobless rate of 3.1 per cent is unchanged from October.

Nick Brown, Minister for Work, said the figures showed that the UK continued to enjoy economic stability, rising employment and more people moving from welfare to work.

He said: "Economic stability is delivering rising employment - up by 242,000 over the year. This is a very good performance in the face of increased global economic uncertainty.

"The biggest improvement has been among those who have been unemployed the longest."

John Monks, TUC general secretary, said: "While today's labour market figures show a welcome increase in overall employment, the most representative measure of unemployment rose slightly and the latest annual data show manufacturing shedding around 170,000 jobs.

"With signs that wage inflation is weakening further and that inflation has already peaked, there is still room for the Bank of England to cut rates to give the economy a New Year boost."