Record numbers in work as jobless tally hits seven year low

Public sector employment has dropped but the private sector has soared
Public sector employment has dropped but the private sector has soared

The Government has been given a pre-Christmas boost on the jobs front after new figures showed record numbers in work and unemployment falling to a seven-year low.

More than 31 million people are in work, the highest since comparable records began in 1971, giving an employment rate of almost 74%.

Unemployment fell by 110,000 in the quarter to October to 1.7 million, the lowest since the spring of 2008.

The claimant count - those on jobseeker’s allowance and the out of work element of Universal Credit - increased by 3,900 last month to 796,200, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

Total hours worked per week topped one billion in the latest quarter, the first time it has passed this mark.

ONS statistician David Freeman said: “This results from the number of people in work continuing to increase, as average weekly hours per person are fairly stable.

“Earnings continue to grow in real terms, although at a slower rate than we have seen in recent months.”

Average earnings increased by 2.4% in the year to October, 0.6% down on September.

Unemployment has fallen by almost 250,000 over the past year, giving a jobless rate of 5.2%, the lowest since early 2006.

The number of economically inactive people, including those looking after a relative, on long-term sick leave or given up looking for work, fell by 63,000 in the last three months, to 8.9 million, giving a rate of 21.9%, the lowest since 1990.

Other data shows that public sector employment was 5.3 million in September, 12,000 lower than in June, and the lowest total since current records began in 1999.

Private sector employment increased by 219,000 to a record of almost 26 million.

Chancellor George Osborne said: “Today’s record employment figures, alongside unemployment and youth unemployment rates at a nine-year low, mean more people than ever before have the security of a job and regular pay packet so they can provide for themselves and their families.