Annual employment figures continue upward trend despite rise in benefit claims

UK employment levels continue to rise despite the economic downturn, official figures from the Office for National Statistics showed.

There are now 29.5 million people in work – up 466,000 – compared to a year ago, with the employment rate standing at 74.9%.

However, the figures did reveal a rise in the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance last month, up 7,200 to 806,300.

Work and pensions secretary James Purnell said: “With overall numbers in employment continuing to grow the economy remains well placed to resist global economic pressures.

“Although I am disappointed to see a rise this month in the number of people claiming unemployment benefit, the employment rate remains high and with more than 680,000 vacancies in the labour market we are determined to help people get the right skills to fill those jobs and contribute to the economy.”

Excluding bonuses, average earnings growth was 3.8%, unchanged from February.

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