By Claire West

Commenting on the recent labour market statistics, Ian Brinkley, director of The Work Foundation, said:

"The overall figures are remarkably good. This is the third quarter that total employment has increased despite the economy apparently being in recession — still not enough to confirm a trend, but definitely not a blip. The private sector has continued to hire in large numbers, although the overall performance may also have been boosted by a temporary slowdown in public sector job losses in the three months to June.

"What is striking is how little impact this has had on unemployment - despite the large numbers of jobs created, unemployment has fallen by just 7,000. Large numbers of students, retirees and people on long-term sick leave seem to be returning to the jobs market, putting extra pressure on it. The rapid growth of the working age population is also having an effect. This development shows just how much of the pain in the labour market has been hidden in the past. There is still a long way to go before unemployment returns to normal levels.

"Digging beneath the totals, the figures show some weaknesses. The majority of the new jobs were either part-time or self-employed. While any increase in employment is encouraging, a full labour market recovery must offer more full-time employee jobs. The number of people in part-time jobs who said they wanted a full-time job did not increase significantly, but is still at a record high."