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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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 197.

    [106. Paul]

    Well you are cutting off your nose to spite your face mate because most public sector workers are better educated and have higher qualifications according to ONS figures. Most of the people I know who have recently taken redundancy from the PS have been snapped up by other employers because they have good skills and experience.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Clamimant count? Scrap benefits & do away with this useless statistic. What matters is who works. Clearly that figure would not include any of the marxist ranters who spend their afternoons fomenthing their ridiculous "wevolutionawy" ideas on these threads!

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    @183. Geoff
    I was signed on for 3 weeks due to redundancy, and the times I was in the job centre (which was often as I actually wanted a job), i lost count of how many times i heard "i dont wanna work there" or "i dont wanna do that job".

    The idea of the Job Centre pushing people into jobs is laughable. The claimers say they dont want a job thats come up and thats the end of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    20 years ago 4 weeks after my 2 operations for a strangulated hernia (and intestines started nocrotising) I went to the Jobcentre to see what I could do. They were so completely and utterly nasty I have never been near since, avoiding them all I can. A few years later when I moved from Bristol I found out they hadn't been credition my Nat. insurance, so I also would have been without pension.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    ''Spare a thought for those with children that can't work because of high tax rates - I can't work because the first £50k of my earnings goes in childcare ( 20k wage, 4k NI, employee pays 5k tax , I have to earn £50K...''

    Did you not think of this before you had the children?

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    unemployment will stay high when the likes of g4s are taking people on for the games and not given them a date to start also they are not paying them for any training that thay do untill they start work often over 1 - 2 months what a con?

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Everyone knows that the figures provided are false. Unemployment cannot be falling when every week businesses are going into liquidation. It is just more government propoganda to make them look as if they are achieving their targets. This isn't just a Conservative Party issue as all parties have been guilty of this in the past.

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    Employment growth? Where??? The main reason that the unemployment figures have dropped is that the school leaving age is now a mandatory 18years old, thereby keeping tens of thousands of teenagers off the unemployment figures. The government haven't dealt with youth unemployment by creating jobs, they are keeping them in school longer!

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Is this the point in time (after two years) when the governments policies are actually having some effect on the country (and everything still is labours fault STILL) ?

    It will be a great to have a record change (every utterance of government begins with labour .... has really gone beyond overtired)

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Daily wail readers dont you just love them.Millions of people in this country are looking for work and get nothing from the state so stop whining about them getting tens of thousands because they dont. Go and check the facts before you moan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    The claimant count has gone UP, many of the new jobs are part time, and most of the public sector job cuts have yet to kick in.....

    .....this is a miniscule blip of good news in an overhwelming tide of otherwise bad news

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    I love it how the government 'cook' the statistics so that they can paint a better picture of the nation's reality.

    They must think we are stupid.

    When are they going to realise that the truth is what is called for in all areas of government. Integrity, integrity integrity!

    No wonder the youth of today and tomorrow are going astray - they have bad misleading examples in authority!

  • Comment number 185.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    Do away with the minimum wage and then we may be able to compete with manufacturing industries in other countries.

    An 'opt out' option might be better, would show who really wants to work and who doesn't. Would also need measures to protect those already in work from replacement by cheaper workers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Job Centres are there to 'police' claimants, not much more. They may also try and reduce the unemployment count by pushing people into jobs, suitable or otherwise, as the employment statistics only count the people receiving Job Seekers Allowance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    I see Lord Snooty in PMQ's as normal while not answering the questions about the plethora of hapless decisions made by this useless administration, referred to this very small change,while it is welcome it is probably a seasonal change and still leaves us with 20% of people between 18 and 24 unemployed and rising female unemployment.

    Good news though no VAT on Caviar .
    We are all in it together

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Mr Byrne would be well advised to think before can a March budget reflect figures from the preceding Dec-Feb statistics...foolish comments just make Labour look like the same party of spin and soundbites; whilst making them even more unelectable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Benefits should be capped at 80% of National Minimum Wage.

    This will immediatelly get into job those who chose not to work because they are better off on benefits.

    Which is in itself rediculous situation, working people must ALWAYS be better off than those on the dole.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    162. thelostdot

    I don't understand your post. Please re-write it in intelligible English. No wonder this country is in a mess with 'graduates' like you around.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Do away with the minimum wage and then we may be able to compete with manufacturing industries in other countries. "

    You mean countries like the USA and Germany? Oh, I forgot, they have a minimum wage.


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