Economy: Further fall in unemployment boosts Chancellor ahead of Budget speech
PUBLISHED: 11:30 19 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:44 19 March 2014
The Government received a pre-Budget boost this morning with new figures showing a record number of people in work and continuing falls in unemployment.
More than 30million people are now in employment, up by 459,000 on a year ago, the highest figure since records began in 1971.
The jobless total fell by 63,000 in the quarter to January to 2.33m, a rate of 7.2%, while the narrower count of those elibigle to claim the Jobseeker’s Allowance in February fell by 34,600 on a seasonally adjusted basis to 1.17m, the 16th consecutive monthly reduction.
The Office for National Statistics also reported a fall in the number of people working part-time because they could not find full-time work − down by 32,000 in the latest quarter to 1.4m, although still 41,000 higher than a year ago.
Youth and long-term unemployment both fell, with those out of work for over a year down by 38,000 to 828,000, while 912,000 people aged between 16 and 24 were jobless, down by 29,000.
The fall in the Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant count was smaller on an unadjusted basis, declining by just over 500 to around 1.243m.
Suffolk followed the downward trend, although the month-on-month change in most districts was only marginal.
The biggest fall, cutting the local unemployment rate by 0.1 of a percentage point to 1.1%, was in Suffolk Coastal where the count was 20 lower compared with January at 821. Forest Heath was the only other district to see a double-digit fall, with the count 35 down at 605, although the jobless rate remained unchanged at 1.6%.
Single-digit falls also left the rates unchanged in Babergh, down four to 853 (a rate of 1.6%), Ipswich, down one at 3,141 (3.6%), Mid Suffolk, down seven to 841 (1.4%), St Edmundsbury, down four to 1,130 (1.6%), and Waveney, down seven to 2,319 (3.5%).
The picture in north and mid Essex was more mixed, with the claimaint count in Tending rising by 51 to 2,978 and the local unemployment rate by 0.1% to 3.9%, and the rate in Uttlesford saw a similar rise, to 1.1%, with the total climbing by 23 to 551.
Smaller increases, leaving the local rates unchanged, were also recorded in Chelmsford, up 32 to 2,090 (1.9%), and Maldon, up one to to 683 (1.8%).
In contrast, the total in Colchester fell by 85 to 2,327, cutting the rate by 0.1% to 2.0%, while in Braintree a fall of nine, taking the total to 1,863, left the rate unchanged at 2.0%.
Employment Minister Esther McVey said today: “We now have the highest employment rate for five years, which shows that the growing economy is helping record numbers of people to find a job, turn their lives around and have the security of a regular wage.
“The rise in employment is being fuelled by businesses and entrepreneurs across the country who are feeling increasingly confident with the improving economy. They should be congratulated for creating over 1.7 million private sector jobs since 2010 - that’s over 1,000 more people in private sector jobs every day.”
However, Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said: “This has been the longest recession in living memory. The Government has to show more urgency to help its main victims, nearly one million young workers out of work, into proper jobs. GMB will assess today’s Budget on what it does to avoid a lost generation.”
• We have live Budget coverage from midday today with accountant Yvonne Graham from Ensors and business editor Duncan Brodie. Click here to join.