UK unemployment down


UK unemployment down
Employment rates rose and unemployment fell in the three months to November, official statistics show.

Unemployment numbers stood at 1.65 million, down 29,000 on a year ago and down 13,000 from August.

The employment level was at 29.36 million, or 74.7 per cent of the population of working age, a rise of 175,000 from the three months to August 2007 and up 263,000 on a year ago.

The number of vacancies was also up to 681,000 over the three-month period and average earnings, excluding bonuses, increased by 3.6 per cent

The average working week is now 32.1 hours – down 0.2 hours from August.

Gordon Brown said today in prime minister questions: "Today the employment figures show employment has risen by 175,000 in the last quarter, it is up by a quarter of a million over the year, unemployment is down the claimant count is down, inactivity is down.

"So under our government: unemployment down; employment up; the best employment record in history."

Rising employment came despite fears of a slowing economy.

Sarah Bloomfield, economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), said: "We expect the falling unemployment rate to continue as it takes time for the labour market to react to the macroeconomic conditions.

"Increased flexibility in the labour market –a result of higher numbers of migrant and part-time workers – will also provide some shielding from the economic environment in the medium term."

The data from the Office for National Statistics also revealed growth in employment for both younger and older workers - with 60,000 more 16 to 24-year-olds in work and 95,000 more people over 50 employed.

The number of men over 65 and women over 60 working also increased by 35,000 to 1.27 million

Chris Ball, chief executive of the Age and Employment Network (TAEN), said: "While it is encouraging to know that there are increasing opportunities for some people to go on working, there are many more who would like to work and the number is rising all the time as the inflation rate for pensioners rises above that for other members of society.

"We estimate that perhaps double the present number working want, or
need, paid work - not just to pay for life's 'little luxuries' but for
the basics of food, fuel and lighting."

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