By Jonathan Davies

The UK unemployment rate fell to a six-and-a-half year low of 5.8% in the three months to November, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Unemployment fell by 58,000, meaning there are now 1.91 million unemployed people in the UK, down from 1.96 million between August and October.

The ONS said that average pay including bonuses grew by 1.7% in the three months to November. Excluding bonuses, pay was up 1.8%. In contrasts to the 1% rate of inflation in November. It adds to evidence that suggests wages are growing in real-terms.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell by 29,700 to 867,000 in December, the ONS said. It was the 26th consecutive month in which the figure has fallen.

The ONS said employment is highest in the east and south east of England (76.6%). Wales has the lowest employment rate (68.7%). But, unemployment is at its highest in the north east of England (8.5%) and at its lowest in the south-west (4.4%).

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "The modest upturn in average earnings growth is a positive development. However, wage growth will only be sustainable if it is matched by increased productivity. The focus of economic policy must remain on sustaining and improving economic growth."

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said: "The 'jobs factory' in Britain the Prime Minister talks about is creating mainly low skilled, low paid and precarious jobs that reflect economic growth linked to the increase in the population. GDP per head is still 3% below 2007 levels and is the reason most workers have seen little or no evidence of any recovery."

John Allan, Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman, said: "Today’s figures, showing a fall in the unemployment rate to 5.8% and a sustained rise in the employment rate, are positive and suggest that the economic momentum will be carried through to 2015. Indeed, FSB research suggests this positive employment trend will continue."

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