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Official figures see unemployment continuing to fall


Employment Minister Tessa Jowell yesterday welcomed the latest employment figures and a further drop in unemployment, as the release of the latest Labour Market Statistics revealed good news about jobs.

The number of people in work continues to grow, and now stands at its highest ever level of 27.97 million. The employment rate has also risen to 74.7%, its highest point since spring 1990.

At the same time, unemployment has continued to fall steadily, with the unemployment rate down from 5.7% in February to April 2000, to 5.3% over May to July. The claimant count of unemployment fell by 18,000 in August, with the number of unemployed people claiming benefits now down to 1.05 million, the lowest since December 1979.

Ms Jowell said, "These figures add to our sustained record of achievement, with 1,071,000 more people in work since spring 1997. In the last year alone, we have seen employment increase by 354,000, and the employment rate is at its highest point in a decade.

"Since the spring of 1997, employment is up in every region, and the latest figures show the largest increases in employment rates for the North East and Scotland. There are now more and more opportunities for people to get back into work, as well as for those who have never worked to enter the labour market. To ensure that employment growth
is sustained, we need to continue to improve the help we give unemployed people, particularly in developing the skills needed by employers in growing industries."

Today's ILO figures show that the number of people unemployed has now dropped to 1.58 million. The claimant count rate has fallen by 0.1 percentage points in the last month, and now stands at 3.6 per cent of the workforce, the lowest rate since October 1975.

Average earnings grew by 3.9% in the three months to July, compared to 4.1% last month, which taken together with yesterday's inflation figures, is further good news.


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