By Claire West

The latest ONS release showed a fall in unemployment of 49,000 in the three months to June. This was driven by a large decline of 70,000 in the level of male unemployment, while female unemployment grew by 21,000. Overall unemployment now stands at 2.46 million. The claimant count measure also fell again, by 3,800 between June and July 2010, and is 1.46 million.

The number of people in employment in the three months to June increased markedly, by 184,000. This was driven by a growth of 115,000 additional part-time employees and 68,000 full-time employees. Levels of self-employment declined slightly, by 8,000. There was a significant jump over the quarter in the number of people in temporary jobs, of 95,000.

The number of vacancies for the three months to July was up by 9,000 to reach 481,000.

Economic inactivity fell by 49,000 in the three months to June. This was driven largely by declining numbers of students. The number inactive due to long-term sickness however continued to grow, by 42,000.

Jim Hillage, Director of Research at the Institute for Employment Studies, comments on the latest figures:

“There was some positive news as unemployment fell by 49,000. It was also encouraging that employment has grown, up by 184,000, and in particular that 68,000 of these were full-time jobs. The labour market though clearly remains fragile - a significant proportion of the employment growth came through temporary positions, perhaps pointing to a lack of confidence among employers, and the numbers of part-time workers unable to find full-time work continues to grow. It is also worrying that long-term unemployment growth remains unchecked, with around a third of the unemployed now out of work for more than a year. This is now particularly hitting the over 50s, of whom 43 per cent of the unemployed have now been out of work for more than a year.”

The vacancy figures to July 2010 show emerging signs of the public sector downturn, with vacancies falling across public sector industries. Jim Hillage continues:

“We are now beginning to see the early signs of the public sector downturn, with vacancy numbers across public sector industries beginning to contract sharply. As these trends gather pace in the coming months, overall unemployment is likely to rise unless the recovery in the private sector will be sufficient to compensate for significant public sector job losses.”