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 177.

    Lies!! Its all constructive figure switching. I recently signed off self employed after 3 years of Jobseekers. But even under the new scheme New enterprise allowance (Still a benefit) Just means I'm no longer classed as "Unemployed" Same thing gos for this so called "MWRA" (Mandatory work related activity). Its just a temporary fix for a clueless government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    At some point we as a nation have to recognise that employment in the traditional sense is coming to an end. Automation has all but removed the necessity of large numbers of workers from manufacturing and capitalism has moved what jobs there are to asia. Now service industries are starting the same shedding of jobs. Eventually we either have to restructure our society or reduce it's population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    They do not mention all those that the Job Centre have refused to help and therefore will not be part of this statistic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    The Torys make me puke, they keep boasting about taking so many people out of tax. What have they done for those not even in the tax system, nothing but persecute them. Cameron and this Government are intent on making the lives of the working classes in this country a misery.

    Perhaps you and many like you, could remember this when the next general election arrives in May 2015.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    Lots of jobs you believe you are overqualified for would probably be more than happy to take on someone with the skills a degree imparts. I have a BSc and am studying for an MSc, to pay my bills I work as an office administrator. My being overqualified never came up. This also has the advantage of giving me work experience for future job applications. Can't be picky at the moment!

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    Politicians promise transparency. We must have transparency and proper clear definitions of who is and who isn't included in employment and unemployment figures otherwise for the general public they are meaningless.

    Can we have this information now please?

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    It is pleasing to see lower unemployment figures; but the sceptic in me; has to ask, has the government done some new calculations in coming to this figure? I would love to be proved wrong, but on so many occasions we've seen figures manipulated to bring so called good news in at bad times to make like the government is doing some good in the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    128.Some Lingering Fog
    8 Minutes ago
    The UK unemployment rate is well below the European average.

    Blame whichever political party you wish but I doubt very much would change whoever is is power.
    Agreed. We have had the same Govt. same policies for 30yrs now

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    It's reassuring that job centres are augmented by efficient private sector companies with expertise like the directly tax payer funded A4e helping people back into work....and they still manage to make huge profits....who needs targets eh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    Do away with the minimum wage and then we may be able to compete with manufacturing industries in other countries. The property market would drop because people would not be able to afford to buy anything so this adjustment would be helpful all round. Anyone who does not accept a job should not receive any benefits as in America and many other countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    I don't know why you use the Job Center logo for this article, I lost my job before Xmas and they won't even see me.

    Recruitment agencies are just as bad. I had Brook Street chasing me for personal reference details for their audit, but no word of a job!

    I don't think I'm the only one who feels let down by the things they pay taxes for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    "..The state this country in is a result of Finance Capitalism making a mess of things.."

    Sure there was a lot of bad lending.
    But you can't have bad lending without bad borrowing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    "If we leave the economic free-for-all behind we might have a chance."

    I'm sorry to say, but in the current type of party-dominated democracy, not only will it not ever happen, but it will never be -allowed- to happen. Just as is the case in Europe, and is happening in the USA, it's all be sewn up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Does anyone ever really trust just one month's figures - I certainly do not. What's more this lousy government is ALL TALK and precious LITTLE ACTION to promote growth and spread the cuts evenly and fairly. Today's PMQ's were all about Dodgy Dave blustering and going scarlet in the face when he knows that he is incompetent and NOT IN TOUCH with Joe Public.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    The Tories wouldnt give a blind man a light."

    Thereby saving the cost of an utterly pointless light.

  • Comment number 162.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    78.Tsunami of Logic
    Is it just me or are the left wing in this country the most annoying trolls ever?
    2How the marxist trolls will protest!

    I'm a troll foldy roll
    I'm a troll foldy roll
    I'm a troll foldy roll
    And I'll eat you for my supper!

    29 Minutes ago

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    Our employment has been exported to amongst others China.Will it return? Maybe in 50 or so years!

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    145 You & your fellow bed room revolutionaries must be writhing on the floor & foaming at the mouth! Common sense & maturity is prevailing and the silly marxist rants you & your chums spout on these threads has been proved to be no more than childish flatulence!

    Osbourne is a 1st class Chancellor & the figures prove it!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    "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"

    Presume you are a Tory supporter. You do remember Cameron and the Tories slating Brown for putting TOO MUCH regulation on the banks?

    I do hope people don't actually believe the crisis wouldn't have occurred under Cameron.


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