Press release

Rise in employment and vacancies shows a stabilising labour market

New figures published by the Office for National Statistics today, show the labour market is stabilising.

New figures published by the Office for National Statistics today, show that despite continuing economic challenges the labour market is stabilising.

60,000 more people are now in employment than in the previous quarter. This takes the total number in employment to 29.13 million, a rise of over a quarter of a million in the last 18 months.

The latest figures also show that there are more jobs in the economy. With 476,000 vacancies available at any one time, this is a rise of 11,000 on the three months to October 2011.

The number of people unemployed (ILO measure) in October-December 2011 was 2.67 million, a rise of 48,000 compared to the level back in July-September 2011.

The number of inactive people, those out of work and not looking for employment, has fallen by 78,000. Taking account of the changes in unemployment and inactivity, this quarter saw a fall in both the overall number and proportion of people who are out of work.

The majority of the 78,000 fall in inactivity came from people with a long-term illness or disability, at a time when the Government’s welfare reforms are moving people from incapacity benefits and for the first time giving them the tailored support they need to find sustained employment.

Today’s figures show a more stable picture for young people, with the number of under-25s who have left full-time education and are unemployed at 731,000, up 1,000 this quarter. Over the same period the number of full-time students looking for a job rose 22,000, to 307,000. Youth unemployment remains a priority for the Government with the Youth Contract starting in April.

The number claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) rose 6,900 in January 2012, to 1.6 million. The underlying trend in the claimant count looks close to flat, with more people flowing off JSA in the last month than flowing on.

Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said:

The latest figures show some encouraging signs of stability despite the challenging economic climate. With more people in employment and a rise in vacancies it is clear the private sector is still creating jobs. However, we are not complacent. With more people in the labour market we know that competition for those jobs is tough and we will continue to make it our priority to find people work.

The employment level for those not born in the UK has risen 212,000 in the last year with particular rises among those originally from the EU accession countries, India , Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Notes to Editors

Background to labour market statistics: February 2012 This month’s Labour Force Survey covers October to December 2011. The claimant count and Jobcentre Plus vacancy count dates were 12th and 6th January 2012 respectively.

**The number of people in work rose this quarter **

  • 29.13 million people were in work in October to December 2011.
  • the employment level rose 60 thousand on the previous quarter and 7 thousand on the year.
  • the employment rate is 70.3%, up 0.1 point on the quarter and down 0.2 points on the year.

**ILO unemployment also rose this quarter **

  • 2.67 million people were ILO unemployed in the October to December quarter, up by 48 thousand on the July to September period and up 179 thousand on the same quarter last year.
  • the ILO unemployment rate is 8.4%, up 0.1 percentage points on the quarter and 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 9.29 million, down 78 thousand on the quarter and 73 thousand on the year.
  • the economic inactivity rate is 23.1%, down 0.2 points on the quarter and on the year.
  • excluding students, inactivity as a share of the 16-64 population is 17.4%, down 0.2 point on the quarter and 0.5 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 1,604. thousand in January 2011, up 6.9 thousand on the level in December 2011, and up 146.3 thousand on the year.
  • the claimant unemployment rate, at 5.0%, is unchanged on the month but up 0.5 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 May 2011, the number claiming incapacity benefits fell 43,000 to 2.57 million. The most recent provisional figure for October 2011 suggests the caseload has since fallen further to 2.565 million.
  • in the year to May 2011, the number of lone parents on income support fell 84,000 to 595,400. Provisional figures for November 2011 suggest the number has fallen further in recent months, to 580,000, driven by welfare reform.

The number of redundancies and unfilled vacancies both rose on the quarter

  • There were 164 thousand redundancies in October to December 2011, up 17 thousand on the previous quarter and 17 thousand on the year.
  • ONS’s vacancy survey estimates an average of 476 thousand unfilled vacancies in the three months to January 2011, up 11 thousand on the quarter but down 21 thousand on the year.

Total weekly pay in October to December was up by 2% over the year

  • growth in regular weekly pay, excluding bonuses, was up 2% on the year.

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