Good news at last! Jobs boost for Government

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Indy Politics

The Government was given some welcome economic news today when unemployment continued to fall and the number of people in work reached a record high.

The employment level was 29.5 million in the three months to February, the best since records began in 1971, while unemployment fell by 39,000 to 1.6 million.

But the Office for National Statistics revised the number of people claiming JobSeeker's Allowance in February, which showed a rise of 600 instead of a previously reported fall of 2,800.

The change, following a routine annual review of seasonal adjustments, brought to an end 16 consecutive monthly falls in the claimant count and was the first rise since September 2006.

The JobSeeker's Allowance total fell last month by 1,200 from the revised February figure to 794,300, the lowest figure since the summer of 1975.

Employment levels rose by 152,000 in the latest quarter and by 456,000 over the year.

But manufacturing jobs continued to be lost, down by 27,000 to 2.9 million in the three months to February, the lowest since records began in 1978.

There was brighter news on the number of job vacancies in the economy, which reached 687,600 last month, an increase of 52,000 over the year and the best since 2001.

Average earnings increased by 3.7 per cent in the year to February, down by 0.2 per cent from the previous month, although excluding bonuses the figure was up by 0.1 per cent to 3.8 per cent, suggesting that basic pay is increasing faster than bonuses.

Wage growth was the same in the public sector and private firms.

A total of 106,000 people were made redundant in the quarter to February, the lowest figure since 1995.

Other data showed a 36,000 fall in the number of people classed as economically inactive, including students, those looking after a relative or who have given up looking for work.

The total is now 7.87 million, more than 20 per cent of the working population.

There were 12,000 days lost through industrial disputes in February compared with 4,000 in January, taking the yearly total to 929,000, over 100,000 more than the previous 12 months.

The UK's unemployment rate of 5 per cent is below the European Union average of 6.7 per cent, but above countries including Slovenia (4 per cent), Holland (2.7%), Lithuania (4.5%) and Ireland (4.9%).

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