Unemployment falls to 7.9%
By Vivienne Russell | 17 October 2012
Unemployment fell to 7.9% over the three months to August, official figures have revealed.
This is a 0.2 percentage point drop on the July figures, and 0.3 percentage points down on a year earlier. The total number of unemployed people was 2.53 million, a fall of 60,000.
Youth unemployment also fell, dropping below 1 million to 957,000. The youth unemployment rate stood at 20.5%, down from 21.6% over the three months to July.
People in work hit 29.59 million, the highest since comparable records began in 1971. But the 71.3% employment rate is still some way from its pre-recession peak of 73%, recorded in March-May 2008.
Employment minister Mark Hoban said: ‘It’s a real landmark to see more people in work than ever before. Despite the tough economic times the private sector continues to create jobs and our welfare reforms are encouraging people to return to work.’
He added that the youth unemployment figures were ‘particularly welcome’.
Tony Dolphin, chief economist at the Institute for Public Policy Research, called today’s figures ‘good news’.
He said: ‘There has clearly been an Olympic effect. Almost half of the rise in employment across England has been in London and a quarter of new jobs are temporary.
‘Employment has been rising for several months as the private sector creates sufficient jobs to offset cuts in the public sector. Employers deserve credit for giving young people a chance and taking them on.’
But he highlighted the rise in long-term unemployment, which has reached a 16-year high. ‘The long-term unemployed should be offered a guaranteed job to make sure they don’t become permanently cut off from the jobs market,’ said Dolphin.
Andrew Sissons, researcher at the Work Foundation, said strong job growth was finally beginning to translate into falling unemployment.
‘While the drop in unemployment is relatively modest, the direction of travel is all important. If the economy keeps creating jobs at its current rate, we should begin to see more substantial falls in unemployment, potentially bringing it back under 2.5 million in the coming months.’
He added that the underlying performance of the economy remained flat. ‘The government must continue to prioritise economic growth, or it will risk further depressing wages and living standards.’