The Office for National Statistics (ONS) this morning published their latest monthly Labour Market Statistics, covering the quarter September – November 2013 (where figures refer to the ‘previous quarter’, this is June – August 2013). The figures show that unemployment fell by 167,000 on the previous quarter, and now stands at 2.320 million, with the unemployment rate dropping on the previous quarter by 0.5% to 7.1%, now hovering just above the point at which Bank of England Governer Mark Carney has stated that he will consider a change in interest rates (7.0%). However, this point was made last summer, it was informed by estimates intimating that the unemployment rate would take much longer to fall to its current level, and in fact the current rate is far ahead of the Office for Budget Responsibilities’ estimate made in December 2013 that the unemployment rate would only reach 7.0% by 2015.
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The number of people in employment increased by 280,000 on the previous quarter, and by 450,000 on the same period last year, to now stand at 30.15 million, which is again a record high.
Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claimants fell for the 15th consecutive month, with 1.247 million people now claiming. Of these, 381,300 have claimed for over a year, down 8,400 on the previous month, and 205,700 have claimed for between 6 and 12 months, a decrease of 5,200 on November’s figures.
Employment Minister Esther McVey has responded to the figures by highlighting the record quarterly rise in employment, including 77,000 young people who have found work. She stated that the increase in employment shows that the Government’s economic plan is working, and that businesses are feeling increasingly confident in their outlook, resulting in them taking on more staff. Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves has argued that, whilst the fall in unemployment is welcome, the Government should do more to tackle the “unacceptably high levels of long-term unemployment and youth unemployment”.
Statistics for other out of work benefits, including ESA, will be updated during February’s statistical release. The last statistics for ESA on flows remains for January – March 2013, with the ONS reporting that it is ‘undecided’ on when it will publish an update for these figures.
Key findings from the figures are as follows:
- The total number of unemployed people over the age of 16 is 2.320m, down 167,000 on the previous quarter, and 172,000 on the same period last year. This means that the total unemployment rate has dropped 0.5% on both the previous quarter and 0.6% on the same period last year to 7.1%.
- The number of people (aged 16 and over) in employment increased by 280,000, or 0.9%, on the previous quarter and 450,000 on the same period last year (0.6%), and now totals 30.15 million. The total number of people in part time employment increased by 59,000 (0.7%) on the previous quarter but decreased by 7,000 (0.1%) on last year, with the number of people working full-time increasing by 222,000 (1.0%) on the previous quarter, and 457,000 (2.1%) on the same period last year.
- Regionally, the biggest decreases in unemployment on the previous quarter were for the third month running in the West Midlands (-32,000/-1.3%) and also the East Midlands (-28,000/-1.3%). The only increase in employment on the previous quarter was in the South West (15,000/0.5%).
- Unemployment for those aged 18-24 has decreased by 40,000 on the previous quarter and the rate now stands at 18.0%, a decrease of 1.1% on last quarter. This means that the number of young unemployed people has decreased for the first time in five months, and it has also decreased by 29,000 year-on-year. Youth unemployment is also down by 8,000 for those unemployed for over 24 months, and down 16,000 for those unemployed over 12 months.
- In terms of duration of unemployment, the number of people unemployed for up to six months has decreased by 55,000 to 1.087m, and 90,000 on the previous year. The number of people unemployed for between 6 and 12 months is down by 51,000 on last quarter (now 395,000).
- The number of people unemployed for over 12 months has decreased by 61,000 (6.8%) on the previous quarter, and has by 53,000 (6.0%) on the same period last year, to now stand at 839,000. This is the third consecutive month that the quarterly figures have shown a decrease in unemployment of over 12 months. The proportion of all unemployed that have been out of work for over 12 months is 36.2%, unchanged on the previous quarter.
- Of these, 51.52% have now been unemployed for over 24 months (449,000), and this number has fallen by 18,000 on the previous quarter, but risen 14,000 on the same period last year.
- JSA claimants for December (the figures are published by month, as opposed to quarter) fell by 24,000 on September’s figure, as well as decreasing by 307,000 on December 2012. The number of people now claiming JSA is 1.247 million, the lowest level since January 2009, and this is the fifteenth consecutive month that the total number of JSA claimants over 18 has decreased.