UK unemployment falls below 7% for first time since 2008

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) this morning published its latest monthly labour market statistics, covering the quarter December 2013 – February 2014 . The figures show that unemployment fell by 77,000 on the previous quarter (September – November 2013), and now stands at 2.24 million, with the unemployment rate dropping on the previous quarter by 0.2% to 6.9%, the first time since the recession in 2008 that unemployment has fallen below 7.0%.

The number of people in employment increased by 239,000 on the previous quarter, and by 691,000 on the same period last year, to now stand at 30.39 million.

The number of JSA claimants fell for the 17th consecutive month in March, with 1.142 million people now claiming, and the figure a decrease of 32,800 on February and 386,100 on March 2013. Unemployment for those aged 18-24 has decreased by 27,000 on the previous quarter and the rate now stands at 17.2%, a decrease of 0.8% on last quarter, and 1.9% on the previous year.

Employment Minister Esther McVey has stated in response to the figures that: “More young people are in work, more women are in work, wages are going up, and more and more businesses are hiring – and it’s a credit to them that Britain is working again. But there is still more to do – which is why I’d go even further and call on more employers to work with us to tap into the talent pool the UK offers.”

Pete from PSI: The latest positive employment figures will be a boost to the UK Government as it continues to counter the Labour Party’s argument that the country is facing a ‘cost of living crisis’. However, as reports continue to emerge over the quality of the jobs being offered to those helping to bring down unemployment across the country, some commentators continue to question the value of these figures as a true assessment of UK unemployment.