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Unemployment in the UK fell by 28,000 between November and January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The unemployment rate stayed at 5.1%, but there were 171,000 fewer people out of work compared with the same period a year earlier, when the rate was 5.7%.

The ONS said there were 31.42 million people in work, 116,000 more than for August to October 2015 and 478,000 more than for a year earlier. The employment rate is now 74.1%, the joint highest since comparable records began in 1971.

During the three month period, pay including bonuses grew by 2.1%, but excluding bonuses workers saw salaries rise 2.2%.

The news will come as a boost to George Osborne, who is expected to deliver a gloomier Budget today (Wednesday). With a bleaker economic picture, continued falling employment will be a positive for the Chancellor to shout about.