By Daniel Hunter

Mark Beatson, chief economist at the CIPD, believes that the latest employment figures, released by the Office for National Statistics, confirm that the labour market is slowly, but surely, expanding.

Official data shows that UK unemployment fell by 57,000 to 2.51 million in the three months to May.

"Today’s labour market statistics appear consistent with the trend in recent months towards a modest but continued expansion of the labour market. Employment has increased marginally since the previous quarter and unemployment is down again, with the growth in full-time jobs rather than part-time jobs," Beatson said.

"Interestingly, the non Labour Force Survey based measures of labour market activity suggest a stronger rate of activity with a fall of 21,000 in numbers claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance and an increase of 24,000 in the number of job vacancies.

“However, the latest figures also show the squeeze on real earnings continues: average pay excluding bonuses increased by just 1% at a time when the government’s target measure of inflation increased by 2.7%. Using this measure of inflation, average real earnings have fallen by 8% since their peak in January 2009. This will have helped to keep unemployment down but may be a reason why consumer confidence remains subdued.”

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