By Marcus Leach

Following last month's return to growth for the economy, there was further good news today (Wednesday) as it was revealed that the number of people out of work in the UK has fallen to its lowest total for more than a year.

Unemployment fell by 49,000 to 2.51 million in the three months to September, taking the jobless rate to 7.8% from 7.9%.

Almost all of the 49,000 fall was due to a decline in youth unemployment, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The unemployment total is now 110,000 lower than for the July-September quarter last year, the ONS said. The number of people in work increased by 100,000 in the latest quarter to just under 30 million, a rise of more than half a million over the past year.

“It is good news that unemployment continues to fall. These are the last set of figures before the Chancellor delivers his Autumn Statement and he must help to embed this growth by bringing forward policies which help small firms grow," John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said.

"However, the stats show that long term unemployment continues to rise, especially for women and 16-17 year olds. We know that small firms are key to taking on people that have been out of work for 12 months or more.

"Recent news that only 16,000 companies have taken-up the regional National Insurance Contributions holiday must provide the signal that it needs to be UK-wide. Not only would extending the scheme to UK-wide micro businesses add £1.3 billion to GDP, but it would create an additional 45,000 jobs.”

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