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 317.

    Why take any notice of the figures? We can all see what's happening around us. We can see the government, cheating and telling lies, deceiving, corrupt, lining their own pockets. Free perks, and as little work as possible. Then they go about telling the rest of us that were work shy, that were lazy, that stuff always comes with the Cons. We should really work hard, in the way they don't!

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    It seems a lot of unemplyed people are on this website. Get out and get a job...move and get a job. Do something positive...if it is difficult try again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.


    Many on here seem to rubbish good news and delight in bad news. Apologies if I misunderstood your own contribution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    The Unemployment Figures and and the Cost of Living Figures
    I wouldn't bother printing, nobody in the real world believe them
    because neither are a true both Tory statistical lies

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    Unemployment has not fallen at all,they have just changed the name of the name from unemployed,employment benefit !.another ploy that anybody that does not have anything to do with being unemployed or being unable to work,would are all sheep being led by liar`s...

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    @ 259. Tom Camish

    Your arrogance and ignorance is disgusting. There are NOT "plenty of jobs to go round". There are between 400k - 460k jobs available on average (with many of the jobs being 16 hours or less and many 16 hours spaced over 3 or more days). There are 2.65m reportedly unemployed. The jobs are being filled as otherwise "that new KFC" you're on about wouldn't be open very long! o_O

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    280. HaveIGotThatWrong

    I suppose we cannot blame Hitler for the fact that there are less than 100,000 jews in Poland

    After all, that happened 70 years ago.

    Thatcher and Regan instigated a deliberate policy of banking deregulation, which had been in place since the 30s to prevent another crash happening.

    Result. We had a crash.

    It is labour's shame they didn't re-regulate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    @274 TonyB
    "Mostly work-shy, lazy socialists on here."

    I would suggest you do some research on what "socialism" means, because I suspect you do not understand.

  • Comment number 309.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    "297.Michael Lloyd
    Utter tripe. For some time now, statistics have demonstrated that for every job vacancy there are at least 5, that's right, 5, unemployed persons. What are the unsuccessful other 4 to do for a living?"

    Five people, one job vacancy? Four opportunities to become self-employed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    Assuming the figures were calculated in the same way that they were last month, this is good news. But hold the champagne: inflation went down last month and it's back up again this month.

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    273. LUFCAT


    Billy, are you saying that drops in unemployment numbers are only good if the 'right' party is in power?

    If so many on here seem to agree with you.
    LUFC I am as cycnical of Tory unemployment figures as I was about New Labour's -

    You can extend that principle to much of the output of the big two.

    We rarely, if ever, get the truth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    'The british are unique in that they are the only nation who like to be told how bad things really are'
    Winston Churchill

    and dispute any glimmer of hope.

  • Comment number 304.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.


    Spot on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Lets go back to the '70s and freeze private landlords rents. 15.5% interest rates, how many of you private landlords would continue.....none. Councils could re-buy your properties at a discount and house those in need, not those who can afford. This Thatcherite/Victorian Govt. is a disgrace!

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    We may have just seen the most encouraging piece of news of a new trend. This would be great for the Government and undermine Labour, who naturally wish to cast good news as bad news. Of course long term permanent jobs are what is truly needed and if this Government has turned the direction then they must be congratulated. Let us hope the trend becomes established.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    "The free labour hours created by mechanisation were suppossed to be used for a better society. Rise up, we are being cheated, learn to fight like we used."

    We should fight the machines? If you mean the system, then what do you propose putting in its place?

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    "Problem I always saw was how to reduce top earners pay ratio without increasing £ wage for low level workers."

    Simple answer is that you can't, You can have gvmt set a principal by imposing a max ratio on it's own workers + subcontractors, but thats about it. Using co-operatives as an alternative to privatisation would have been the way forward, those are likely to set similar rules.

  • Comment number 298.

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


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