Image: National Archives Image: National Archives

The UK's unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since October 2005 in the three months to the end of November, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The rate is now 5.1%, down from 5.2% a month earlier, after unemployment fell 99,000 to 1.68 million. Compared with the same period last year, there were 239,000 fewer people in unemployment.

The ONS said there are now 31.39 million people in work, 267,000 more than the previous three months, and 588,000 more than a year earlier. The employment rate was 74% during the quarter, the highest comparable number since records began in 1971.

Pay continued to grow far quicker than inflation during the three month period. Wages including bonuses were up 2%, and 1.9% excluding bonuses. Inflation was negative during September and October, before turning positive at just 0.1% in November, meaning the cost of living fell slightly over the three months, whereas the money workers took home was up 2%.

The Chancellor George Osborne said: "Today marks an important milestone on the road to full employment. The unemployment rate has fallen below the rate we last saw before the great recession, and now stands at its lowest rate for a decade. Employment is at its highest rate in our history, there are more women in work than ever before and 130,000 fewer young people unemployed than this time last year."