Decrease in unemployment 'slowing' according to the ONS

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) this morning published its latest monthly labour market statistics, covering the quarter October – December 2013 (where figures refer to the ‘previous quarter’, this is July – September 2013). The figures show that unemployment fell by 125,000 on the previous quarter, and now stands at 2.342 million, with the unemployment rate dropping on the previous quarter by 0.4% to 7.2%. However, this does represent a rise of 0.1% on last month’s figures for September – November. Whilst the two sets of data are incomparable as this would rely too much on a single month’s figures from a whole quarter, the ONS says that what we can read into this is that the pace at which unemployment is falling has probably slowed.

The number of people in employment increased by 193,000 on the previous quarter, and by 396,000 on the same period last year, to now stand at 30.146 million. The number of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claimants fell for the 15th consecutive month in January, with 1.215.7 million people now claiming. Of these, 368,900 have claimed for over a year, down 10,600 on the previous month, and 196,600 have claimed for between 6 and 12 months, a decrease of 7,900 on the figure for December.

Finally, unemployment for those aged 18-24 has decreased by 48,000 on the previous quarter and the rate now stands at 17.9%, a decrease of 1.2% on last quarter. This means that the number of young unemployed people has decreased for the second consecutive monthly release, and it has also decreased by 43,000 year-on-year. Youth unemployment is also down by 17,000 for those unemployed for up to 6 months, 8,000 for those unemployed  for between 6 and 12 months, and down 22,000 for those unemployed over 12 months.

Employment Minister Esther McVey has responded to the figures by highlighting that the latest positive figures show that the “government’s long-term plan is working” and that “record numbers of women in work and youth unemployment continues to fall, which means more people have the security of a regular wage and can plan for their future”. Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves noted that the job wasn’t complete for the Government, arguing that in terms of youth unemployment “this is no time for a victory lap – what we need is concrete action”.