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 657.

    They know how to play to the British public. It's like the England team beating Algeria...suddenly we're world beaters!

    Under the Tories, unemployment rose to it's highest level since 1984...i.e. when the last Tory government was in power.

    This is a party of unemployment!

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    Only through gerrymandering.

  • rate this

    Comment number 655.

    With the new rules on working tax credits we just took a poor guy on for 8 hours because he had no choice but to find an extra 8 hours work. He will boost the coalitions employment figures when in fact unemployment is still higher than a year ago. We never voted either of these parties into power and the libs are gone forever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 654.

    could also be due to the fact that those of sickness benefits have been forced to come off too... whether their illness was made a ploy to get out of working or not.... it's a sad country we live in...

  • rate this

    Comment number 653.

    @640. Eyes Wide Open
    Can no one see that all figures are carefully hand picked by the government that is currently in power, showing false readings, so they can have bragging rights now & there legacy in the future.
    I am not sure whether this is the green shoots of recovery, but it is good news. It is amazing that some people don't want to believe it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 652.

    How do you know ? You are just one person, right? (A bit of a Super Person by the sound of it - but still a single being ) Have you applied for jobs in different areas of the country ?Is it low skilled work?

    Come again?

  • rate this

    Comment number 651.


    Ironic. I'm still laughing whilst typing this comment after reading such rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 650.

    Why do they have to show hand picked statistics, i.e 'The North East & The South East" why can you not show us a link to all regions with all unfiltered stats, so we can make our own mind up if the government is doing right by the nation, not what they tell us

  • Comment number 649.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 648.

    there is apparently no money for anything,all public sector must be cut, but they find 100m for the rich, this just does not add up ,why?
    next time something goes and it cost less than 100m , the rich have it
    the more they the worse it will get, not envy pure and simple economics
    i pity them though,

  • rate this

    Comment number 647.

    You lefty lot - just move your butts and find yourselves a job then you wont have anytime to write your rubbish on blogs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 646.

    The first line in the ONS report states clearly that EMPLOYMENT increased by 53000 yet this figure appears nowhere in the BBC reporting. That is 53000 more people earning money and probably paying taxes. All the focus is on the negative and deliberately ignoring the positive of 53000 more people in employment. Both employment and unemployment figures are needed for a complete picture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 645.

    627. LUFCAT

    The increase in the number of part time jobs is a good thing
    Difficult assertion to we have a breakdown of "full time" and "part time" unemployed. Do we know how many part time employed are still seeking full time employment?
    Would youngsters look at part time as a god send?

  • rate this

    Comment number 644.

    Of course unemployment has dropped because.
    1) The age at which you retire has increased = more people working will reduce the 'statiscal percentage' of unemployed people.
    2) Students now finish school at 18 = Less youths aged 16-18 not working, therefore less youths are statistically unemployed.

  • Comment number 643.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 642.

    638 ex-tory voter
    basic economic shame those in power are so bias against there own people, they do anything but
    History shows growth only comes , has in china now when the masses are wealthy not a chosen few.
    the rhetoric by a few on here only hastens the change and read and laugh at their stupidity , they breed unrest and change

  • rate this

    Comment number 641.

    No I don't, I'd never go near a job about the blind leading the blind.
    Where does a smart cookie like you go BJ - A4e?

  • rate this

    Comment number 640.

    Can no one see that all figures are carefully hand picked by the government that is currently in power, showing false readings, so they can have bragging rights now & there legacy in the future. These fictious figures are blinding you with 'pretty' colourful graphs & explosive buzz words & statements.

  • rate this

    Comment number 639.

    I have lived abroad for the last 5 years but due to family reasons had to return to the UK for 6 months last year. To support myself I had to work. Within the first month and a half found two jobs, one part time, the other full time, with no trouble at all. And for two months managed to do both the two jobs. Most of the time it comes down to attitude.

  • rate this

    Comment number 638.

    Exported - big time. Some people say globalisation exploits foreign workers. It also hits techies."

    That's the huge, and obvious, flaw with glottalization - if you export all your jobs, you have no customers, since you've just made them unemployed and they can no longer afford to buy your products. What's the point in cost-cutting when in doing so you destroy your own market!


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