UK unemployment falls by 35,000 to 2.65m, ONS reports


Chris Grayling, Employment Minister: "Far, far, far too many people still unemployed"

UK unemployment has registered its first fall since last spring, according to official figures.

Unemployment fell by 35,000 to 2.65 million over the December-to-February period, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The unemployment rate edged down from a 12-year high of 8.4% to 8.3%, the lowest level since the summer of last year.

The claimant count rose by 3,600 in March to 1.61 million.

That is the highest total since October 2009, according to the ONS.

"If you look at the longer-term picture, unemployment rose quite strongly during the summer of last year, then the increases tailed off a bit towards the end of the year," Nick Palmer from the ONS told BBC News.

"So despite this latest decrease, the level of unemployment is significantly higher than it was a year ago, in fact it is some 170,000 higher than it was at the same point a year ago," he said.

Part-time concerns

The ONS data showed that the number of people having to settle for part-time work because they can't find full-time jobs has risen 89,000 to 1.4 million, its highest level since records began in 1992.

That trend is a concern to the TUC, whose general secretary Brendan Barber said: "While any rise in the number of jobs is welcome, the fact is that full-time employment is still falling and a record [number] are now stuck in involuntary part-time work."

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Jobs centre, London

But Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: "One of the things we are seeing is more people coming back into the workplace.

"Some of those moving into part-time work we know are women who either have got children and are coming back into part-time work because they are at school, or who are older and the children are grown-up and are coming back into part-time jobs.

"There are more of those in the workforce today than there were a few months ago," he said.

In an interview with the BBC, Liam Byrne, the shadow work and pensions secretary, expressed his concern over those who have been unemployed for at least a year: "The number of people long-term unemployed is now up about 50% on the year.

"What that shows is that the jobs crisis is becoming deep-set and that's a real worry because it makes the challenge of getting our country back to work harder and harder still.

"I'm afraid it's now become very, very clear that the Budget has done nothing to move the needle on creating growth or getting people back into jobs," he said.


Nicholas Palmer, ONS: ''This is the first decrease we have seen in unemployment since spring last year''

The latest report contained some encouraging news for younger jobseekers, with the number of unemployed 16-24 year-olds falling to 1.03 million.

However, the rate of youth unemployment, at 22.2%, remains high.

At the other end of the age scale, the Age UK charity pointed out that older women were increasingly prone to joblessness.

"The number of unemployed women aged between 50 and 64 has risen by 27% since this time last year - a significantly bigger increase than any other age group," said Age UK's director general Michelle Mitchell.

The latest report shows that prospects for employment differ across the UK:

Within the English regions the picture is also very varied:

  • The North East saw unemployment fall by 9,000, but the region still has the highest rate in England, of 11.2%
  • The South East recorded a fall in the jobless total of 2,000. It has the lowest rate in England, of 6.3%

Across the UK, average earnings rose by 1.1% in the year to February, the slowest pace since the summer of 2010.

Mike Fetters, director at jobs website, said: "Today's figures flatter to deceive.

"Whilst on the surface they look rosier than those of the past few months, they hide a number of concerns - not least the staggeringly high levels of underemployment.

"We have seen the retail sector take another battering, with more closures announced, and concerns for the eurozone have resurfaced."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    Unfortunately, Labour didn't change their policies in 2005, so when their lax governance of the banking system helped trigger its collapse the UK's finances couldn't cope"

    So therefore it is reasonable to conclude that the term in office under consideration is the entire period 1997-2010 rather than cherry picking one particular parliament at the end of that term in office.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    The amount of unemployment in this country is ridiculous. There's too many people saying there aren't any jobs out there. There are plenty of jobs out there, there's just too many people who can't be bothered to get one. Too much money is given to people who simply cannot be bothered. And why should they? They're better off than those of us that work! It should be get a job or lose your benefits!

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    #128. Some Lingering Fog
    'Blame whichever political party you wish but I doubt very much would change whoever is is power'

    That is because Lab/Con/Lib accept certain Capitalism is great. Under Capitalism a few (and only ever a few) get very rich and thereby control the destiny of others. If we leave the economic free-for-all behind we might have a chance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.


    Not sure what that proves? In general, dyslexic people can read.

    Maybe the job centre staff could have been giving that particular individual a bit more help, since they had learning difficulties, instead of trying to trick them out of benefits?

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    JCP more interested in giving hand outs than helping find work.
    Partner signs on for NI stamp, not entitled to cash(nor need it) as I work.
    However today told since she had a mole removed they will try to get her on incapacity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    The Torys make me puke"

    I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    The point has been made by others already, but it is worth repeating that the statistics only reflect people claiming Job Seekers Allowance. I was made redundant after 41 years working, but stopped signing on as my means tested JSA meant no payment. Like me, there are many more people unemployed who want to work, but not claiming. The statistics show only part of the true picture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Guitar man 129 - you are so in tune. The Tories wouldnt give a blind man a light. They dont give a damn in the working masses because they go out of their way not to mingle with us unless its coming up to election time. Tax and death as early as possible for the masses - that makes a tory happy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    I don't quite understand. What is the UK's definition of unemployed? Is it those who are of working age who are not paying income tax, or those who register at the job centre? Does that mean any gaps on my CV aren't due to unemployment if I don't register at the job centre? That's a relief!

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    137.Total Mass Retain
    So Labour's policies suddenly changed after the 2005 election did they"

    Unfortunately, Labour didn't change their policies in 2005, so when their lax governance of the banking system helped trigger its collapse the UK's finances couldn't cope.

    Admit it. You miss-read the comment about "term". You mustn't be like Labour and refuse to acknowledge mistakes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    I would have thought it's more telling that unions are again planning strike action on May 10th, the very same date that police officers from all over England and Wales are descending on London to show their anger at what's happening to them by marching through the city (they can't strike so it's the best they can do).

    So perhaps it's a little early for Tory backslapping?

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    I was made redundant when 30% of the staff were given their marching orders. I am 54. It has been incredibly difficult getting work. Nevertheless I would not complaint about the assistance I have received at job centres in assisting me back into work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    [78] Tsumami of Logic

    No you will protest when unemployment keeps on soaring, the economy implodes, your local high-street shuts down and the only shop left is a Pound Shop! Go figure - mass unemployment even if you consider that only "3rd rate jobs" are being lost is not good for the economy nor the exchequer. People also lose good local services such as libraries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    @129 guitarman08 I think you mean they're persecuting the Benefit Class.

    Benefit Class - Working Class - Middle Class - Upper Class

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Job centre to claimant you say you are Dyslexic
    Claimant Yes
    Job centre what are you doing to try and get a job
    Claimant Local paper, job points
    Job centre but you say you are Dyslexic how do you do that
    Claimant oh um my brother helps me.
    And you wonder why so many unemployed.
    By the way this is an actual interview that took place

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    " wont see any improvement until we get rid of this corrupt Government."

    I'm not the greatest fan either but who would replace them? The other lot still seem to know nothing, other than 'borrow & spend' - no one appears to have told them that option is off the table now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    8 Minutes ago
    Is it just me or are the left wing in this country the most annoying trolls ever?

    Unemployment goes down and all Wallace has to say is 'how can you celebrate'. No, Ed. How can YOU celebrate? You left the country in the most debt it's ever been in....
    But the claiment count is UP

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Unemployment is still unacceptably high!

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    #122 Spot on. Box ticking nonsense with zero expertise and free discourtesy thrown in by some staff..

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    ... and local government cuts haven't really begun to bite yet. We're on the verge of an employment crisis in this country, not that the Tories care.


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