Jobless benefit claims fall despite rise in unemployment

Unemployment
increased by 6,000 between March and May to 1,432,000, according to official
data.

But
the number of people claiming unemployment benefit last month fell by 9,600 to
850,900, the Office for National Statistics has said.

Meanwhile,
average earnings growth was 4.3 per cent in the year to May.

The
rise in jobless numbers is the first increase since the three-month period July
to September last year. But the overall unemployment rate stood at 4.8 per cent
during the period, unchanged from the April rate.

Figures
last month had shown that unemployment was falling and analysts had expected a
similar drop this month.

Jane
Kennedy, minister for work, welcomed the figures. "Unemployment is the
lowest for nearly 30 years and continues to fall. [The UK] has the second
lowest unemployment of the major economies after Japan," she said.

By Mike Berry

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