The unemployment level in the last quarter is the lowest since spring 2011. The ONS also said that the number of people claiming job seeker’s allowance was down by 12,100 to 1.56 million, and that average earnings had increased by 1.5% in the year to November.
The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 71.4%, up 1.1% on a year earlier. And the number of people classed as economically inactive, including those looking after a relative or who have given up looking for a job, fell by 13,000 to just over nine million.
However, the ONS data showed an increase of 26,000 in the number of women out of work for up to six months, and a rise of 1,000 in the number of 16-24 year-olds out of work, the first rise since last summer.
Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said of the figures: “This is exciting news from the labour market. It would be easy to get distracted by recent headlines around the big high street names such as Comet, HMV and Jessops going under, but the fact remains that the UK jobs market is continuing to improve, the overall trend is one of job creation and we are outperforming our European neighbours.
“It’s important that people don’t declare the sky is falling because of losses at a few firms and to recognise that the picture is varied from sector to sector.
“Recruiters are right there at the front line of the jobs market and the regular feedback they give us is that employers continue to hire. Small businesses don’t make national headlines but they are where the majority of job creation is going to come from.”
However, the TUC today releases a report arguing that the rising number of people in work has been driven by a surge in self-employment.
In the light of the figures, McDonald’s has announced that it will be creating 2,500 new jobs this year, many of which will go to young people.
Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald’s said: “Whilst today’s job market is hugely competitive, we offer many people their first experience of work and we’re focused on doing what we can to help more young people get into quality jobs and careers. To help young people get on in life, it’s crucial for major employers like us to keep investing in training and people development, because companies like ours can make a big difference through the jobs we create and the support we provide.”