Yorkshire jobless total falls as UK rate hits seven-year low

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Unemployment in Yorkshire fell by 30,000 in the quarter to January, official figures have revealed.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a total of 161,000 people were unemployed in the region between November and January.

The region’s unemployment rate was 6% and saw a drop of 15.7% during the period.

Nationwide, unemployment has dipped to a near seven-year low after a fall of more than 100,000, while a record number of people are in work.

The jobless total is 1.86 million, the lowest since the summer of 2008 and almost half a million down on a year ago. The jobless rate is now 5.7%, compared to a European Union average of 9.8%.

The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance fell by 31,000 to 791,200 in February - the 28th consecutive monthly reduction.

The ONS also reported that employment increased by 143,000 in the latest quarter to January to almost 30.1 million, the highest since records began in 1971.

The employment rate of 73.3% has never been higher.

The number of people classed as economically inactive, including those on long-term sick leave, looking after a relative or who have given up looking for work, fell by 30,000 to just over nine million, or 22.2% of 16 to 64-year-olds.

The figure is 14,000 higher than a year ago.

Self-employment increased by 33,000 to 4.5 million, close to a record high and accounting for more than a quarter of all employment.

Other figures showed that public sector employment has fallen by 6,000 to just under 5.4 million, the lowest since current records began in 1999.

The biggest losses have been in local government, while employment in the NHS increased by 18,000 over the past year.

Average earnings increased by 1.8% in the year to January, down by 0.3% on the previous month. The latest inflation figures will be published next week.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The highest employment rate in our history is not a dry fact. It means more people with the security of a pay packet and a brighter future.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “This is a remarkable set of figures, which underlines this Government’s success in backing businesses to create jobs, and supporting British people to seize those opportunities.

“As a country, we should be proud that there are now record numbers of people in work, record numbers of job vacancies available, and the lowest unemployment rate since 2008.

“For every single day that this Government has been in power, we have seen an average of 1,000 more people in work. In total, that’s 1.9 million more people with the self-esteem and financial security that a job brings.

“Thanks to our long-term economic plan, Britain is looking forward to a brighter, better, and more secure future. And thanks to our welfare reforms we have ensured everyone has the skills and the support, as well as the opportunities, to be part of the economic recovery.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Today’s employment figures are a historic moment. With almost three-quarters of working-age people now in work, we have achieved the highest rate of employment in the UK since records began.

“This is a sign that the long-term decisions the Liberal Democrats have taken in government have created a more resilient economy.

“But we have also created a fairer economy with everyone sharing in the fruits of our recovery, more people, especially women, in full-time jobs and more young people in work. Everyone now has the opportunity to get on in life and achieve their full potential.”

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny said: “The economic recovery under way should be much further ahead than it is.

“The 3.2 million increase in population since 2007 has led to additional economic activity in the UK, as would be expected.

“The new jobs being created are mainly low-skilled, low-paid and very precarious jobs. Even skilled workers in the UK face being undercut while wages are stagnant or falling in real terms.

“Most workers have seen little or no evidence of any recovery in living standards based on investment and productivity gains.”