Press release

Labour market showing signs of stabilising as the economic outlook improves

Ministers have welcomed the news that the latest unemployment figures show the labour market stabilising after a difficult last few months.

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

Ministers have welcomed the news that the latest unemployment figures show the labour market stabilising after a difficult last few months. The headline figure for unemployment today fell to 2.492m from the 2.498m figure published last month and there has been a sharp jump in the number of vacancies to half a million across the country, the highest in two years.

The figures published by the Office for National Statistics show a rise in unemployment of 44,000 (ILO measure) when measured across the whole of the last quarter. But by December the labour market had stabilised and saw a fall of 6,000 on the quarterly figure published last month. They also show a small rise in the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance. The news follows more encouraging economic data for services and manufacturing.

The Government reaffirmed its commitment to tackling the youth unemployment problem it inherited, including helping the 600,000 young people who have never held down a job since leaving school or college and increasing the number of apprenticeships, up to 75,000 extra by the end of the Parliament.

Chris Grayling said:

It’s been a difficult few months in the labour market but things do now seem to be stabilising. The rise in the number of vacancies is particularly encouraging. The challenge for us now is to push ahead with our welfare reforms as quickly as possible so we start to move more people off benefits to take advantage of those vacancies.

The Government’s flagship new Work Programme is gaining momentum with over 170 tenders submitted from 30 organisations from private, public and voluntary sector organisations. The programme will be in place by the summer and will offer personalised, tailored support to get people back into jobs.

Ministers have been consistently clear that the UK economy faces significant challenges ahead. They are certain that only by reducing the deficit, encouraging private sector firms to create jobs and giving jobseekers the best possible back to work support will we see Britain working again.

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

This month’s Labour Force Survey covers October to December 2010. The claimant count and Jobcentre Plus vacancy count dates were 13th and 7th January 2011 respectively.

The number of people in work fell this quarter

  • 29.121 million people were in work in October to December.
  • the employment level in October-December was 68 thousand lower than the previous quarter but up 98 thousand in the last six months and 218 thousand on the year.
  • the employment rate is 70.5%, down 0.3 percentage points on the quarter, and down 0.1 points on the year.

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

  • claimant unemployment was 1,459.7 thousand in January 2011, up 2.4 thousand on the level in December 2010, and down 157.1 thousand on the year. 
  • the claimant unemployment rate, at 4.5%, is unchanged on the month and down 0.5 percentage points on the year.
  • In the year to May 2010, the number claiming incapacity benefits fell 8,300 to 2.61 million. The most recent provisional figure for December is 2.58 million, suggesting the level is falling slowly.
  • in the year to May 2010, the number of lone parents on income support fell 41,300 to 679,200. Provisional figures for December suggest the number has fallen further in recent months, to 640,000, driven by welfare reform.

ILO unemployment rose this quarter but the underlying position is close to flat

  • 2.49 million people were ILO unemployed in the October to December quarter, up by 44 thousand on the July to September period and up 40 thousand on the same quarter last year. 
  • the ILO unemployment rate is 7.9%, up 0.1 percentage points on the quarter and on the year.

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

  • the economic inactivity level is 9.4 million, up 93 thousand on the quarter and up 36 thousand on the year.
  • the economic inactivity rate is 23.4%, up by 0.2 points on the quarter but unchanged on the year.
  • excluding students, inactivity as a share of the 16-64 population is 17.9%, up 0.3 points on the quarter and up 0.2 points on the year.

The number of vacancies rose on the quarter and the number of redundancies was unchanged

  • There were 145 thousand redundancies in October to December, unchanged on the previous quarter and down 23 thousand on the year.__
  • ONS’s vacancy survey estimates an average of 500 thousand unfilled vacancies in the three months to January 2011, up 40 thousand on the quarter and up 20 thousand on the year.__

Total weekly pay in October to December was up by 1.8% over the year

  • growth in regular weekly pay, excluding bonuses, was up 2.3% on the year.
Published 16 February 2011