Ministers upbeat as jobless total falls to 2.51m

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Unemployment has fallen to its lowest total for over a year, although there has been an increase in the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance, figures showed yesterday.

The jobless total dropped by 49,000 in the quarter to September to 2.51m, the lowest figure since last summer. But the so-called claimant count jumped by 10,100 last month to 1.58m, the highest since July, and the biggest monthly rise since last September.

The number of people in work increased by 100,000 in the latest quarter to just under 30m, a rise of over 500,000 over the past year.

Other figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that long-term unemployment – those out of work for over a year – increased by 12,000 in the quarter to September to 894,000, while 443,000 people have been jobless for over two years, up by 21,000.

Part-time employment increased by 49,000 to 8.1m, close to a record high, while there were 51,000 more people in full-time jobs, at 21.4m.

Unemployment among women fell by 10,000 to 1.09m, and by 39,000 among men to 1.43m.

Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds fell by 49,000, which accounts for the total fall in today’s jobless figures. More young people are classed as economically inactive, most of whom were in full-time education.

Average earnings increased by 1.8 per cent in the year to August, up by 0.1 per cent on the previous month, giving average weekly pay of £471, including bonuses.

In Yorkshire the number of unemployed dropped by 20,000 to 247,000.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: “It’s good news to see yet another increase in the number of people in work and to see unemployment fall again. The fall in youth unemployment is particularly welcome, although we’re not complacent about the scale of the challenge still facing us.

“We’re working hard to help the long-term unemployed back into a job. That’s why we’ve committed to supporting the hardest-to-help people over a two-year period through the Work Programme so that we can help them overcome their barriers to work and get them into sustainable jobs.”

The Government highlighted figures showing that the number of people who are classed as inactive, those not looking for work, has fallen by 25,000 in the latest quarter, with the number of people inactive due to long-term sickness falling by 83,000.

The number of people on incapacity benefit, employment and support allowance or lone parent income support has fallen to 3m – the lowest figure in nearly 20 years. Mr Hoban said: “These figures suggest that our welfare reforms are working, with fewer people on long-term sickness benefits and more people either in or looking for work.”