Unemployment falls to record low

Unemployment in the UK fell by 51,000 between June and August to 1.39 million – the lowest since records began 20 years ago.

The jobless rate, based on all those out of work, not just those who claim benefit, fell to 4.7 per cent between June and August from 4.8 per cent in the previous three months.

Claimant count unemployment fell by 200 in September to 834,000, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures prove that the jobs market is at a standstill, according to John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

“The flood of new jobs enjoyed in recent years has slowed to a trickle,” he said. “And with the number of economically inactive people of working age at a record level, the Government is still a long way short of meeting its goal of  ‘full employment in an opportunity society’.

Slower growth in employment, a dip in the employment rate and a drop in hours worked suggests weaker demand for staff, Philpott said.

“This is at first sight surprising in an economy that is still growing well above its long-run sustainable rate, but is understandable when improvements in productivity are taken into account,” he said.

“Year-on-year growth in output per worker spurted to 2.9 per cent in the second quarter – faster than at any time since 2000 and higher than the 2 per cent per annum that is generally thought to be the UK’s underlying rate of labour productivity.”

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