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Unemployment dips by 2,000 with record numbers in work

Published 18/05/2016

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said that the Government is 'years behind schedule' in achieving its employment target for disabled people
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said that the Government is 'years behind schedule' in achieving its employment target for disabled people

Unemployment has fallen and a record number of people are in work, but there is evidence that the jobs market could be "cooling off".

Unemployment dipped by just 2,000 in the quarter to March to 1.69 million, a fall of 139,000 over the past year.

The claimant count was down by 2,400 last month to 737,800, although revised data showed the figure rose by 14,700 between February and March, the highest total since autumn 2011.

Job vacancies were down by 18,000 to 745,000, the first fall for almost a year.

The number of people in work reached a new record of 31.5 million, or 74% of the working age population.

David Freeman, a senior statistician at the Office for National Statistics, said: "The employment rate has hit another record high, but this time the increase is quite modest.

"With unemployment very little changed, that is further evidence the jobs market could be cooling off."

Average earnings increased by 2% in the year to March, up by 0.1% on the previous month.

Economic inactivity among women reached a record low of 5.5 million, from a total of 8.9 million, down by 116,000 on a year ago.

The figure includes people on long-term sick leave, looking after a relative, on early retirement, or who have given up looking for work.

The number of self-employed workers has increased by 182,000 to just under 4.7 million, a new record, while people on government-supported training and employment programmes has fallen by 7,000 to 98,000.

The number of non-UK nationals working in this country increased by 229,000 over the past year to 3.34 million.

The total has risen from 928,000 in 1997, while the proportion of non-UK nationals working in the UK has gone up from 3.5% to 10.6%.

Over the past year the number of non-UK nationals from the EU increased by 224,000 to 2.15 million while those from outside the EU were little changed at 1.19 million.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Stephen Crabb said: "These are another record-breaking set of figures, with more people in work than ever before and the unemployment rate is the lowest in a decade at 5.1%.

"More people in work means that more families across the UK are benefiting from the security of a regular wage and the fulfilment that employment brings.

"But the job is not done, which is why our welfare reforms, such as Universal Credit, are making sure that it always pays to be in work."

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