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Jobless rate at 10-year low as unemployment falls to 1.62m

The UK's unemployment rate has fallen to a 10-year low of 4.8% following another drop in the numbers out of work.

The jobless total stands at 1.62 million after a reduction of 16,000 in the quarter to October.

The UK now has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, with only Germany and the Czech Republic having a lower figure.

There was a slight fall of 6,000 in the number of people in work, to 31.7 million, although the figure for women reached a record high of almost 15 million. The employment rate for women is now almost 70%, the best since records began in 1971.

There was an increase of 2,000 in the claimant count last month, to 809,000 - the highest figure since February 2015.

The Office for National Statistics also reported a rise of 76,000 in the number of people classed as economically inactive. The total, which includes those on long-term sick leave, taking early retirement, looking after a relative or who have given up looking for work, is 8.9 million.

Average earnings increased by 2.5% in the year to October, up by 0.1% on the previous month.

Public sector employment has increased by 12,000 to 5.4 million, mainly due to new jobs in the NHS and education. The figure is 10,000 lower than a year ago, while local government employment has reached a record low of 2.1 million.

The number of workers in private firms has fallen by 17,000 to 26 million, but is still 352,000 higher than a year ago.

Other figures showed a 107,000 increase in part-time workers to a near record high of 8.56 million.

There has been a 10% fall in the numbers in part-time jobs wanting full-time work over the past year, to a total of 1.16 million.

Pay growth is said to be particularly strong in the construction industry.

ONS senior statistician David Freeman said: "The labour market appears to have flattened off in recent months. While the employment rate remains high, it is slightly down on the record set recently. Meanwhile, a small fall in unemployment on the quarter was more than offset by a rise in economic inactivity."

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said: "This year will be remembered as one when so many records were made - employment has consistently been running at an all-time high, with more women, older workers and ethnic minority groups in work than ever before.

"Encouragingly, this good news was extended right across the UK.

"But there is more to do to help people of all backgrounds and abilities into work, which will remain a priority as we press ahead with our welfare reforms that are ensuring it always pays to be in work."

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