The ONS findings published this morning, found the unemployment rate was 8.3% of the economically active population, down 0.1% on the previous quarter. There were 2.65 million unemployed people, down 35,000 on the quarter. This is the first quarterly fall in unemployment since the three months to May 2011.
The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 70.4%, up 0.1% on the quarter. There were 29.17 million people in employment aged 16 and over, up 53,000 on the quarter.
The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 23.1%, down 0.1 on the quarter. There were 9.27 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, down 25,000 on the quarter.
Total pay (including bonuses) rose by 1.1% on a year earlier, down 0.2 on the three months to January 2012. Regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.6 per cent on a year earlier, unchanged on the three months to January 2012.
Tom Lovell, group MD of recruitment consultancy Reed, said:“With last month’s labour market statistics showing the lowest rise in unemployment for nearly a year, and private sector job creation outstripping job losses in the public sector for the first time since the beginning of 2011, we could be seeing firm evidence that the labour market is beginning to stabilise.
“Our own market statistics also show that the UK labour market is heading in a positive direction, with the latest Reed Job Index finding that job creation was strong during the first three months of 2012. It reported a six per cent increase in job opportunities between Q4 2011 and Q1 2012, and a promising nine per cent increase when Q1 2012 is compared to the same period in 2011.
“Last month also saw a boost to the temporary jobs market. Reed’s March figures showed a 14 per cent increase in the number of temps placed when compared to February this year. Insurance was a sector that performed particularly well in this market, with the number of temps placed in March nearly three times that placed in February, and a 43 per cent increase on the number placed in insurance during March 2011.
“Overall, the number of permanent jobs taken and interviews attended remained fairly static during February and March, reinforcing the evidence of a market that is stabilising. Some sectors have shown promising signs of growth for permanent jobs, with permanent jobs taken up 27 per cent year on year for the health sector and up 17 per cent in the care sector. Also, interviews attended were up 33 per cent year on year in HR related roles, and 11 per cent for accountancy roles – which could translate into an increase in the number of permanent jobs taken in these sectors in the coming months.”