By Vivienne Russell | 20 February 2013
The UK unemployment rate was 7.8% in the final quarter of 2012, figures published today by the Office for National Statistics have shown.
This is unchanged from the rate reported in January for the three months to November 2012 but is less than the 7.9% reported for the July to September quarter.
A total of 2.5 million people were out of work in the last three months of 2012, down 14,000 on the number in the July to September period. The number of jobless people aged between 16 and 24 rose by 11,000 over the quarter, leaving the youth unemployment rate at 20.8%, consistent with the previous quarter’s figures.
Between October and December, the employment rate shot up by 0.3 percentage points compared with the previous three-month period. A total of 29.73 million people were in work, up 154,000 on the previous quarter and almost 600,000 more than at the same time in 2011.
The Department & Work and Pensions said there had been a welcome drop in long-term unemployment, which fell by 15,000 over the quarter to its lowest level for almost a year.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘The fall in long-term unemployment is particularly welcome and shows that the training and support we are offering is helping people move off benefits and into work.
‘These figures show another big increase in full-time jobs, half a million more British people in work over the past year and more women in employment than ever before.’
The Work Foundation said the figures confirmed that the labour market continued to recover strongly.
‘We should be particularly encouraged by the fact that our economy is now consistently creating full-time work – full-time employee jobs increased by 167,000 over the three-month period. And the number of individuals reporting that they are working part-time because they can’t find full-time work is finally starting to fall,’ said senior economist Charles Levy.
But he added that real wage growth remained low. ‘Annual increases in total pay were only 1.4% in December, well behind inflation. This means that on average, living standards for those in work are still falling.’
Tony Dolphin, senior economist at the Institute for Public Policy Research, highlighted the 11,000 rise in the number of unemployed young people.
He said: ‘Youth unemployment stopped falling several months ago. There has been only a relatively small fall in long-term unemployment. The government needs to redouble its efforts to support these groups, who are at risk of permanent “scarring” in the labour market.’