Nick Brown, Minister for Work, has announced that a record 28.4 million are people in work in the UK.
The minister said: “The UK labour market remains strong with the number claiming unemployment benefit at the lowest for over 25 years. We are not immune to the world’s economic difficulties, but over the last year employment has grown and unemployment has fallen. There are now 169,000 more people in work than a year ago and 1.5 million more than in Spring 1997.”
The labour market weakened slightly in the final months of 2001, though the latest figures show it remains in a strong position. There are some further signs of improvement this month. Overall, however, the trend in both employment and unemployment is close to flat.
Annual earnings growth was 1.9% in February, down from 2.9% in January. Part of the fall reflects lower bonus payments compared to the same month last year. The latest claimant count figures show a 6 thousand fall between February and March, following falls of 4.8 thousand and 9.9 thousand in the previous two months. At 939.6 thousand (3.1%), it is 45 thousand lower than this time last year, and at its lowest level since October 1975.
Having increased a little between August and November last year, the number of people making new claims for unemployment benefit has fallen back to just over 220 thousand a month.