Unemployment falls - but a third of jobless haven't worked in a year

Unemployment

Youth unemployment and jobseekers allowance totals drop – but minister warns of 'international uncertainty'

LAST UPDATED AT 13:16 ON Wed 16 May 2012

UNEMPLOYMENT dropped by 45,000 in the three months to March, leaving the jobless figure at 2.6 million - its lowest point since the summer of 2011. The number of people claiming the dole also fell, with 13,700 coming off jobseekers allowance in the quarter, taking the total down to 1.59 million.

The figures, released by the Office of National Statistics today, give some hints as to where the growth in employment is coming from. Almost 8 million Britons are now in part-time work, a number that has never been higher since records began back in 1992, while self-employment has also reached the record level of 4.1 million.

The Independent reports that the number of people out of work for more than a year rose to 887,000, which represents one in three of the total unemployed, and is the worst total since 1996. But overall, a fall in the unemployment rate by 0.2 to 8.2 per cent and a 17,000 drop in youth unemployment will be a boost for the Government following a Budget described by critics as an "omnishambles".

"These figures are a welcome step in the right direction," said employment minister Chris Grayling. "For a number of months now, employment has been growing and this is starting to feed through into improving unemployment figures. However, we still face significant international uncertainty so we need to hold firm on our current economic strategy and continue to do everything we can to ensure unemployment continues to fall."

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, was less positive. "That there are 2.63 million people without jobs shows the extent to which the Government's gamble with the economy has failed," he said. "So instead of borrowing to support the economy and to continue the recovery the Government has had to borrow to fund the recession." · 

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