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UK unemployment falls, particularly among the young, says ONS

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UK unemployment has fallen by a further 88,000 in the three months to April, to 2.43 million, according to data released in the past hour by the Office for National Statistics. This is the largest quarterly fall in unemployment since August 2000.

The quarterly fall in unemployment occurred mainly among people aged from 16 to 24. The number of unemployed people in this age group fell by 79,000 over the quarter to reach 895,000, the lowest figure since the three months to April 2009.

The unemployment rate is 7.7%, according to the ONS, down from 7.9% in the previous quarter.

But the number of people claiming Jobseekers' Allowance increased by 19,600 to 1.49 million, marking the biggest such rise since July 2009.

Commenting on the statistics, Tom Lovell, group managing director of recruitment consultancy Reed, said:

"Through May, we have seen an increase in job opportunities across the board compared to April. The series of holidays in April reduced the flow of jobs, but now the cluster of bank holidays is out of the way we expect to see an increase in job opportunities as organisations look to fill any gaps before the summer holiday season gets into full swing.

"May saw an upturn in the permanent jobs market, with a 23% increase in permanent jobs taken in May compared to April this year. We saw a similar effect in the temporary jobs market, with a 10% increase in the number of temporary workers placed in May 2011 compared to April. Interviews arranged were also up by 13%.

"We have also seen some sectors perform especially well during May, with accounting, finance and education being particular standouts. They all saw increases in temporary jobs, permanent jobs and interviews attended when compared to April this year.

"The Reed Job Index also found that overall employer demand is up 18% year on year. Although the majority of growth has come from the private sector, it is interesting to note that public sector employer demand is at its highest since July last year."