Press release

Big rise in private sector employment and fall in overall unemployment welcome as the economy stabilises

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Rising private sector employment and a fall in the overall number of people unemployed is a welcome step in the right direction.

Rising private sector employment and a fall in the overall number of people unemployed is a welcome step in the right direction Employment Minister Chris Grayling said today.

New figures published by the Office for National Statistics today show:

  • a rise of 143,000 of people in employment driven entirely by growth in the private sector;
  • a rise of 140,000 in the number of people in full-time work;
  • a fall of 17,000 in the overall number of people unemployed;
  • a fall of 15,000 in the number of unemployed young people not in full time education (from 681,000 to 666,000) over the quarter;
  • a rise of 27,000 in the number of students in full time education looking for work (from 270,000 to 297,000) over the quarter;
  • a fall of 11,000 in the number of unemployed young people compared to last month’s published figure (from 974,000 to 963,000);
  • almost half a million vacancies in the economy;
  • a rise of 700 in the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, following last month’s 8,500 fall, with the trend still close to flat.

Chris Grayling said:

These figures are another step in the right direct direction, it’s good news to see a rise in the number of full time jobs in the private sector and the fall in unemployment is welcome. It is also reassuring to see a fall in the number of young people not in full time education who are unemployed.

However, there are challenges ahead and our priority is to continue to support the economy, by reducing the deficit and putting in place measures to encourage growth in the private sector.

Ministers have made it clear that tackling youth unemployment remains a priority with the growth in apprenticeships and work experience opportunities key to giving young people a head start in finding and keeping a job with a future.

To enable young people to get valuable work experience Government has changed the rules so that young people can do up to two months work experience and keep their benefits. Under previous rules it was for only two weeks. Jobcentre Plus offices around the country are working with local businesses to refer young people onto work experience opportunities.

Jobseekers that need extra support will be helped back into sustained employment via the new Work Programme, which comes on stream in the summer. Private and voluntary sector organisations will be investing £581m upfront in what will be the biggest welfare to work programme this country has ever seen to provide tailored support built around the needs of individuals. Organisations will be paid by results and allowed to develop support that really addresses the needs of jobseekers.

Notes to Editors:  Background to labour market statistics: April 2011

This month’s Labour Force Survey covers December to February 2011. The claimant count and Jobcentre Plus vacancy count dates were 10th and 4th March 2011 respectively.

The number of people in work rose this quarter

  • 29.23 million people were in work in December to February 2011.
  • the employment level was 143 thousand higher than the previous quarter and up 390 thousand on the year.
  • the employment rate is 70.7%, up 0.2 percentage points on the quarter, and up 0.4 points on the year.

The number of people on JSA rose this month but the trend is close to flat.  The number claiming one of the other main out-of-work benefits is improving:

  • claimant unemployment was 1,450.5 thousand in March 2011, up 0.7 thousand on the level in February 2011, but down 88.7 thousand on the year. 
  • the claimant unemployment rate, at 4.5%, is unchanged on the month but down 0.3 percentage points on the year.
  • in the year to August 2010, the number claiming incapacity benefits fell 26,130 to 2.61 million. The most recent provisional figure for February 2011 is 2.57 million, suggesting the level is falling slowly.
  • in the year to August 2010, the number of lone parents on income support fell 43,380 to 672,350. Provisional figures for February 2011 suggest the number has fallen further in recent months, to 615,000, driven by welfare reform.

ILO unemployment fell this quarter but the trend is close to flat

  • 2.48 million people were ILO unemployed in the December to February quarter, down by 17 thousand on the September to November period and down 5 thousand on the same quarter last year. 
  • the ILO unemployment rate is 7.8%, down 0.1 percentage points on the quarter and the year.

The level of economic inactivity is down on the quarter and the year

  • the economic inactivity level is 9.3 million, down 71 thousand on the quarter and down 91 thousand on the year.
  • the economic inactivity rate is 23.2%, down by 0.2 points on the quarter and down 0.3 points on the year.
  • excluding students, inactivity as a share of the 16-64 population is 17.7%, down 0.1 points on the quarter and on the year.

The number of vacancies was close to flat this quarter but the number of redundancies fell

  • there were 127 thousand redundancies in December to February 2011, down 30 thousand on the previous quarter and down 36 thousand on the year.
  • ONS’s vacancy survey estimates an average of 482 thousand unfilled vacancies in the three months to March 2011, up 1 thousand on the quarter and up 16 thousand on the year.

Total weekly pay in December to February was up by 2.0% over the year

  • growth in regular weekly pay, excluding bonuses, was up 2.2% on the year.