By Marcus Leach

Official figures released today (Wednesday) show that the number of people out of work fell by 82,000 between August and October, to 2.51 million.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data reports that the unemployment rate was 7.8%, down 0.2 percentage points from the previous three months.

Further to that the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell 3,000 to 1.58 million in November.

Total pay was up 1.8% compared with the same period last year.

"These figures provide a glimmer of hope in what has been a dark year for the UK labour market," John Salt, director at totaljobs.com, said.

"With Christmas on the horizon, we often see part-time and temporary jobs open up at this time of year. However, as with the Olympics, my concern is that the UK economy is being propped up by part-time or temporary workers and until we see growth in real job creation throughout the year, an underemployment bubble will continue to disguise the true picture of the UK’s labour market.

"On top of this, the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement has left more of a wintery chill in the air, signalling that we are not through the worst of it and can expect unemployment to rise again next year, hitting young jobseekers and the North of England hardest."

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, echoed the sentiments of Mr Salt, although offered a word of caution at the same time.

“It is good news that the labour market is inching in the right direction and that youth unemployment is falling," he said.

"However, latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility suggest that unemployment will peak at 8.2 per cent which may mean further job lob losses in the medium term. Small firms are key to hiring the economically inactive — an area in which unemployment rose by 60,000.

"Small firms that want to expand and take on more staff need an extra incentive. Extending the National Insurance Contributions holiday to all micro firms across the whole of the UK would be a good starting point. This would help to create an additional 45,000 jobs while adding £1.3 billion to GDP.”

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