Press release

Grayling: Labour market showing more signs of stability but we still have challenges ahead

The labour market is showing real signs of stabilisation despite the continuing tough economic climate.

The labour market is showing real signs of stabilisation despite the continuing tough economic climate.

New figures published by the Office for National Statistics today show another rise in employment, up 53,000 to 29.172m (ILO measure). This is coupled with a fall in unemployment of 35,000 on the quarter, to 2.65 million. This is despite the fact there are more people in the labour market, with a fall in inactivity of 25,000.

Today’s figures also show a better picture on youth unemployment.  The number of 16 to 24-year-olds who have left full-time education and are seeking work is 719,000, down 11,000 on the quarter, while the number of full-time students looking for a job is 315,000.

Jobseeker’s Allowance is up 3,600 this month to 1.61 million.  However, as this includes the effect of welfare reforms that are moving more people onto JSA from other benefits, the underlying trend remains broadly flat.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said:

Today’s figures are a step in the right direction but we still have a long way to go. We are pushing ahead with our strategy to promote investment and new jobs in the private sector and support people currently without work to take up those jobs.  I am particularly encouraged that overall employment is now growing despite reductions in the public sector.

There are still economic challenges ahead and the government is reacting by helping people to find employment through initiatives with the private sector at their heart.

In the past month 160,000 incentives of £2,275 have become available to employers who take on young people in the Work Programme as part of the £1billion Youth Contract. 

Notes to Editors:

Background to labour market statistics: April 2012

This month’s Labour Force Survey covers December 2011 to February 2012. The claimant count is for  March 2012 and the vacancy count for January to March 2012.

The number of people in work rose this quarter

  • 29.17 million people were in work in December 2011 to February 2012.
  • the employment level rose 53 thousand on the previous quarter but fell 57 thousand on the year.
  • the employment rate is 70.4%, up 0.1 points on the quarter but down 0.3 points on the year.

**ILO unemployment fell this quarter **

  • 2.65 million people were ILO unemployed in the December to February quarter, down by 35 thousand on the September to November period but up 172 thousand on the same quarter last year.
  • the ILO unemployment rate is 8.3%, down 0.1 percentage points on the quarter but up 0.5 percentage points on the year.

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

  • the economic inactivity level is 9.27 million, down 25 thousand on the quarter and 29 thousand on the year.
  • the economic inactivity rate is 23.1%, down 0.1 points on the quarter and on the year.
  • excluding students, inactivity as a share of the 16-64 population is 17.4%, down 0.1 point on the quarter and 0.2 points on the year.

The number of people on JSA rose again this month, but the number claiming one of the other main out-of-work benefits is improving

  • claimant unemployment was 1,613  thousand in March 2012, up 3.6 thousand on the level in February, and up 145.2 thousand on the year.
  • the claimant unemployment rate, at 4.9%, is unchanged on the month but up 0.4 percentage points on the year.
  • the figures continue to be affected by welfare reform, including the ongoing process to re-assess existing claims for incapacity benefits, and this is likely to have made some contribution to the rise in the JSA caseload.
  • in the year to August 2011, the number claiming incapacity benefits fell 24,000 to 2.58 million. The most recent provisional figure for February 2012 suggests the caseload has since fallen further to 2.55 million.
  • in the year to August 2011, the number of lone parents on income support fell 80,000 to 595,300. Provisional figures for February 2012 suggest the number has fallen further in recent months, to 580,000, driven by welfare reform.

The number of redundancies rose on the quarter and unfilled vacancies were unchanged

  • There were 174 thousand redundancies in December to February 2012, up 11 thousand on the previous quarter and 47 thousand on the year.
  • ONS’s vacancy survey estimates an average of 464 thousand unfilled vacancies in the three months to March 2012, unchanged on the quarter but down 19 thousand on the year.

Total weekly pay in December to February 2012 was up by 1.1% over the year

  • growth in regular weekly pay, excluding bonuses, was up 1.6% on the year.

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