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UK unemployment levels fell again in May

Press Release   •   Jul 17, 2013 10:41 BST

The number of people out of work and claiming benefits in the UK is expected to have fallen again last month as the economy's recovery feeds through into the jobs market.

The ONS said today, the employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 71.4%, down 0.1 percentage points from December 2012 to February 2013 but up 0.6 from a year earlier.

There were 29.71 million people in employment aged 16 and over, up 16,000 from December 2012 to February 2013 and up 336,000 from a year earlier.

The International Labour Organisation measure of unemployment includes jobless people who want to work, are available to work, and are actively seeking employment.

Although youth unemployment was down by 20,000, the number of long-term jobless rose by 15,000. The number of people classed as economically inactive also increased in the latest quarter, up by 87,000 to 9.04 million.

Meanwhile, average earnings including bonuses in the UK rose by 1.7 per cent. Analysts had expected an increase of 1.4 per cent following a 1.3 per cent rise in the prior month. Excluding bonuses, average earnings were up one per cent (1.1 per cent expected, 0.9 per cent previously).

The most surprising news came from the drop in number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance. The figure fell by 21,200 in June, against expectations of a fall of 8,000 following the previous month's drop of 8,500. Some 4.4 per cent of the population now claim jobseeker's allowance, down 0.4 percentage points from a year earlier.

In the chancellor's latest spending round, he announced a number of significant reforms to the financial support for people looking for work, including requirements for upfront work searching, weekly rather than fortnightly visits to jobcentres, a satisfactory level of spoken English, and - most controversially - the introduction of a seven day waiting period.

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