More in work, but unemployment unchanged

Sep 18 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The number of people out of work and claiming benefit fell last month to its lowest level for 28 years, according to official statistics.

Average pay also rose by up 3.4 per cent on the same period a year ago.

But while the number of those in jobs has risen by 63,000 over the past three months, the claimant count rate was unchanged at 3.1 per cent for the 20th month in a row. The total number of people out of work over the quarter fell by only 1,000 to 1,493,000.

The static nature of the jobs market is highlighted by an overall unemployment rate that was unchanged on the previous quarter at 5.1 per cent, down 0.1 per cent over the year.

While the government was quick to pick up on the figures from the Office for National Statistics, they chose to ignore the continuing decline in manufacturing jobs.

The UK's manufacturing workforce shrank by 125,000 in the three months to the end of July compared with the previous year. At 3.5 million, the figure is the lowest level since records began in 1984.

The biggest job losses were in electrical and optical equipment, textiles, leisure and clothing sectors.

But the figures also show that people are working longer hours. The total number of hours worked per week was a record 901.6 million, up 8.5 million over the quarter.