By Daniel Hunter
New figures published by the Office for National Statistics today (Wednesday), show that despite continuing economic challenges the labour market is stabilising.
60,000 more people are now in employment than in the previous quarter. This takes the total number in employment to 29.13 million, a rise of over a quarter of a million in the last 18 months.
The latest figures also show that there are more jobs in the economy. With 476,000 vacancies available at any one time, this is a rise of 11,000 on the three months to October 2011.
The number of people unemployed (ILO measure) in October-December 2011 was 2.67 million, a rise of 48,000 compared to the level back in July-September 2011.
The number of inactive people, those out of work and not looking for employment, has fallen by 78,000. Taking account of the changes in unemployment and inactivity, this quarter saw a fall in both the overall number and proportion of people who are out of work.
The majority of the 78,000 fall in inactivity came from people with a long-term illness or disability, at a time when the Government’s welfare reforms are moving people from incapacity benefits and for the first time giving them the tailored support they need to find sustained employment.
Today’s figures show a more stable picture for young people, with the number of under-25s who have left full-time education and are unemployed at 731,000, up 1,000 this quarter. Over the same period the number of full-time students looking for a job rose 22,000, to 307,000. Youth unemployment remains a priority for the Government with the Youth Contract starting in April.
The number claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) rose 6,900 in January 2012, to 1.6 million. The underlying trend in the claimant count looks close to flat, with more people flowing off JSA in the last month than flowing on.
"The latest figures show some encouraging signs of stability despite the challenging economic climate," Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said.
"With more people in employment and a rise in vacancies it is clear the private sector is still creating jobs. However, we are not complacent. With more people in the labour market we know that competition for those jobs is tough and we will continue to make it our priority to find people work."
The employment level for those not born in the UK has risen 212,000 in the last year with particular rises among those originally from the EU accession countries, India , Pakistan and Bangladesh.
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