Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Experts cautious over jobless fall

The jobless total dropped by 49,000 in the quarter to September
The jobless total dropped by 49,000 in the quarter to September

The Government has hailed a fall in unemployment to its lowest total for over a year, although experts warned of a "disproportionate" increase in part-time work.

The jobless total dropped by 49,000 in the quarter to September to 2.51 million, the lowest figure since last summer, while the numbers claiming Jobseeker's Allowance jumped by 10,100 last month to 1.58 million, 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 30 million, a rise of over half a million over the past year.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban welcomed the figures, particularly a fall in youth unemployment. Union leaders said huge numbers were "stuck" in part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work, while the CBI said progress on getting people into work had slowed.

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 8.1 million, close to a record high, while there were 51,000 more people in full-time jobs, at 21.4 million. Around 1.4 million people were in a part-time job because they could not fund full-time work, a slight fall on the quarter to June, but over 250,000 more than two years ago.

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.

Mr Hoban added: "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."

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said: "Over a third of the unemployed have been out of work for over a year. These are precisely the people the Government's flagship Work Programme were supposed to help. But the programme is in total gridlock because jobcentre staff have lost all faith in it."

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