Unemployment falls by 99,000 to approach eight-year low

File photo dated 15/07/09 of a person passing a Job Centre Plus. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

File photo dated 15/07/09 of a person passing a Job Centre Plus. Photo credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Unemployment has fallen to a near eight-year low and a record number of people are in work, official figures have shown.

The jobless total fell by 99,000 in the three months to November to 1.6 million.

This week's raft of job losses in the steel industry will not feed through for months.

Tata announced more than 1,000 redundancies on Monday, while Sheffield Forgemasters said on Wednesday that 100 jobs are set to be cut from its 700-strong workforce.

The official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that unemployment has fallen by 239,000 over the past year.

The claimant count has also fallen - down by 4,300 last month to 785,900, the lowest since March 2008.

Employment has reached a record 31.3 million, a rate of 74pc, increasing by more than half a million over the past year and by 267,000 in the latest quarter.

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Almost 23 million people are in a full-time job, 436,000 more than a year earlier, while 8.4 million are working part-time, up by 152,000. The number of workers in part-time jobs wanting a full-time post is 1.2 million, down by 21,000 in the latest three months.

Economic inactivity, counting people on long-term sick leave, looking after a relative or who have given up looking for work, fell by 93,000 to just under nine million, the lowest since the spring of 2014.

The inactivity rate for women reached a record low of 27pc. The record high was 44pc in 1971, when most employment records started.

Average earnings increased by 2pc in the year to November, down by 0.4pc.

Other figures showed that job vacancies have increased by 13,000 to a record high of 756,000.

ONS statistician David Freeman said: 'These results show the labour market continued to strengthen in the autumn.

'The employment rate, at 74pc, was the highest on record, as was that for women, while the rise in the number of people in work - 276,000 on the quarter - was the third highest on record.

'Real earnings continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace than in mid-2015.'

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