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Unemployment falls by 46,000 to 2.56 million, ONS reports

Employment levels in the UK are continuing to rise, according to the Office for National Statistics, with the employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 at 71% for the past quarter of 2012 (April to June), up 0.4% on the previous quarter.

There were 29.48 million people in employment aged 16 and over, up 201,000 on the quarter.

The unemployment rate was 8.0% of the economically active population, down 0.2% on the quarter. There were 2.56 million unemployed people, down 46,000 on the quarter.

The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 22.6%, down 0.3 on the quarter. There were 9.10 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, down 117,000 on the quarter.

The statistics mirror research carried out by recruiter Reed.

Cathy Dyos, regional managing director at Reed, explains: "Reed's latest figures show numbers of permanent jobs taken during July are up 15% month on month and flat year on year. This boost has been seen across many sectors, but driven in particular by property and construction (23%) and technology (21%), which have seen large monthly increases. Additionally, education (33%) and retail (9%) sectors have seen growth when compared to July 2011.

"It's positive news that the permanent jobs market is faring so well, as some experts speculated that last month's boost to employment was due to a temporary impact of the Olympics. This rise could be a sign that employers are feeling more confident to actively invest in the future of their business or perhaps it is being driven by necessity, with employers looking for specific skill sets.

"Confidence is a major driver of economic growth and perhaps businesses are harnessing the boost from positive data and the feel good factor that has spread across the country.

"The latest Reed Job Index, which tracks numbers of job opportunities in the UK, also reinforces this outlook. July jobs growth was well ahead of the same period in 2011, with new vacancies increasing by an impressive 13% year on year and the majority of the nation's employment sectors (68%) showing significantly more job opportunities than in June.

"All in all, these figures paint a very encouraging picture for the upcoming state of the UK's employment market."

According to the ONS, total pay (including bonuses) rose by 1.6% on a year earlier, up 0.1 on the three months to May 2012. Regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.8% on a year earlier, unchanged on the three months to May 2012.