- Number of people out of work falls by 51,000
- Now 1.4million people forced to work part-time because they can't find a full-time job after 25,000 rise
- Earnings have increased by 1.4 per cent in the last year
- Government cautious about positive data as economy faces being hit by eurozone turmoil
- 886,000 have been unemployed for more than a year
- 24.3 per cent of workers in Spain are unemployed - the highest in the EU
By Rob Cooper
PUBLISHED: 05:56 EST, 20 June 2012 | UPDATED: 05:58 EST, 20 June 2012
The number of people out of work in Britain has fallen slightly to 2.61million, official figures revealed today.
But the Government was hit with a mixed bag of data today as it emerged the number if benefit claimants has actually risen.
The jobless total dropped 51,000 in the quarter to April, while the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance in May rose by 8,100 to 1.6 million, ending two months of declines.
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Falling: The number of people in work rose by 81,000 int he last quarter, according to official figures released today
Those in work soared by 166,000 in the biggest increase since the quarter ending in August 2010. Roughly half of the increase was down to people taking part time jobs.
The UK’s unemployment rate now stands at 8.2 per cent of the workforce down 0.2 per cent and significantly below the European average of 10.3 per cent.
In total, there are now 29.28 million people in work with eight million of those part-time, according to official figures released today.
However, despite a rise in the number of people in jobs, there are still long-term problems with the economy which is continuing to flatline.
Falling: The unemployment rate has dropped by 0.2 per cent to 8.2 per cent
The number of people forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time work increased by 25,000 to 1.4million.
There are now 886,000 people who have been out of work for more than a year - an increase of 85,000.
And 434,000 have been unemployed for two years - up by 29,000.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: 'Any fall in unemployment is very welcome but I remain cautious over the next few months, given the continuing economic challenges we face.
'There are more jobs available in the economy with vacancies at 465,000, up 7,000 on this time last year.
'The number of people employed in the private sector is up 205,000 on the quarter, more than offsetting a 39,000 fall in public sector employment. The total number of people working full-time has also increased by 82,000.
Unemployment falls: The number of people out of work has fallen slightly nationwide in the last quarter - but 8.2per cent of the workforce are still unemployed nationally
'These figures show that with the right support in place, it is possible for the private sector to create jobs while the public sector employment is falling.'
HOUSEHOLDS FACE SQUEEZE AS PAY STAY RATE OF BELOW INFLATION
Households face a continuing squeeze on their incomes as pay rises remains below the rate of inflation.
Average total pay, including bonuses, rose by 1.4 per cent in the year to April to £467 a week, the Office for National Statistics said, while inflation was running at 3 per cent.
But the rate at which incomes are falling after adjustment for inflation has slowed to a near 30-month low.
Households were squeezed by high prices and sluggish wage growth throughout 2011 and early 2012, but the Bank of England predicts the pressure should ease as the rate of inflation pulls back towards the Government's 2 per cent target throughout the year.
Average total pay in the private sector was up 1.3 per cent at £465 per week, while regular pay was up 2.1 per cent at £431 per week.
Today's figures showed that pay is now falling 1 per cent in real terms, which is the slowest rate of decline since November 2009 and compares to a peak rate of a decline of 3.4% seen last September, when inflation was 5.2%.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial information services firm Markit, said: 'Although pay growth continues to run behind inflation, pointing to a squeeze on real incomes, the squeeze has clearly eased, reflecting the combination of falling inflation and faster pay growth, which should help bolster consumer spending.'
Average earnings increased by 1.4 per cent in the year to April, up by 0.5 percentage points on the previous month due to the timing of bonuses.
Weekly pay in private firms in April was £5 higher at £465 compared to a year ago.
Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the EU at 24.3 per cent, while Austria has the lowest at 3.9 per cent.
Youth unemployment has also fallen, down by 29,000 over the latest quarter to 1.01 million.
There were 9.23 million economically-inactive people in the three months to April, a fall of 69,000, mainly due to a reduction in the number of students.
Unison leader Dave Prentis said: 'While there may be a small reduction in unemployment, we know that the situation for our members working in the public sector - under the cosh of the coalition Government’s relentless austerity agenda - is getting tougher by the day.
'The figures also shine a harsh light on the hard-core of the unemployment crisis in the UK - that of long-term unemployment. The number of people unemployed for more than two years continues to rise.
'We know that the longer someone is out of work, the more difficult it is to get back into it.
'The Government would be wise not to hide behind these small increases, in the vain belief that they show that the economy is improving.
'The reality is that many people are suffering as a result of stagnant growth and the brutal public sector cuts, and the Government needs to wake up to this and take action if we are to see any true signs of recovery.'
David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, described the figures as 'encouraging' for the economy.
Her said: 'This is encouraging news at a crucial time for the UK economy. Although the level of youth unemployment remains high, overall these figures show a flexible and robust job market.
'This proves that the private sector is willing and able to create new jobs while public sector employment continues to shrink.'
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