Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed that between December last year and February this year, unemployment has fallen.
6.9 percent of the labour force are unemployed in the period – that compares to 7.9 percent for the same period last year.
There are now 30.39 million in jobs – that’s 691,000 up from the same period last year, the ONS said.
But there are 8.85 million people between the ages of 16 to 64 that, in the ONS’ jargon, are economically inactive. But that’s down by 104,000 people compared to the previous year.
Pay has also risen by 1.7 percent compared to the same period last time round.
Lower unemployment figures and a drop in inflation have led the Governor of the Bank of England to saw the UK economy will growth this year and next year.
Interest rates won’t be increased until unemployment falls to seven percent or below, Mark Carney said.
Growth in the UK is now likely to be 1.6 percent, slightly up from the 1.4 percent forecast. And Carney said annual growth could reach 2.8 percent, rather than the 2.5 percent the Bank predicted earlier this year.
In the quarterly inflation report, the Bank said that “recovery has finally taken hold. The economy is growing robustly.. thawing credit conditions start to unlock pent-up demand.”
Carney said that although house prices are showing signs of inflation, there did not yet seem to be evidence for a British property bubble.
During the months of November 2012 to January 2013, unemployment rose, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has said.
In its latest repor,t the organisation said the figures shot up by 7,000 to 2.52 million, compared to the previous three months.
The North East of England fared the worst with a top unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, while the East and South East of England saw the lowest figures with 6.6 percent.
Last month the organisation found that the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 1,500 to 1.54 million.
The number of unemployed women increased by 5000, while youths also suffered. Figures stood at 993000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in the latest quarter, up by 48000 from the three months to October.
The ONS also revealed that average earnings for those in employment increased by 1.2 percent in the year to January.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the latest figures showed that the government had “failed every single one of these [unemployed] people and it has failed our country.”
He said instead of the bedroom tax or cutting child benefit, the government could dramatically reduce the welfare bill by getting people back to work.
“The Government should use today’s Budget to take bold action to fuel growth. Taxing banking bonuses could provide vital funds to stop the jobs carnage in the public sector and provide the jobs and growth our economy so desperately needs,” he added.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has slated a hefty priced scheme aimed at helping the long-term unemployed get back into work.
The MPs have called the Work Programme “extremely poor” after its research found that in the 14 months of the scheme being up and running only 3.6 percent of those involved moved off benefits into sustained employment.
PAC said that the performance was also “so poor” that it was “actually worse” than the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) own expectations of the number of people who would have found work if the Programme didn’t exist.
It also pointed out that the Programme was particularly failing young people and the hardest-to-help.
Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee of cross-party MPs, said: “It is shocking that of the 9,500 former incapacity benefit claimants referred to providers, only 20 people have been placed in a job that has lasted three months, while the poorest-performing provider did not manage to place a single person in the under-25 category into a job lasting six month.”
The programme was introduced in June 2011, at an estimated cost of between £3 billion and £5 billion over five years. However, PAC said that none of those contracted to help place workers had met their targets and their performance “varied widely”
It said that it was also concerned that some providers were focusing on people more likely to generate a fee, and sidelining jobless clients who required more time and investment.
“Given the poor performance across providers, there is a high risk that one or more will fail—either they will go out of business or the Department will cancel their contracts,” the report added.
This isn’t the only DWP scheme that has caused recent controversy. Back in January the department came under fire after French benefit assessment company Atos ordered 50,000 disabled Scots to go back to work.
The company was hired by the UK Government to help cut the welfare bill by assessing whether those on disability benefits were actually eligible for work.
Atos’s Work Capability Assessments aimed to do this by asking benefits claimants to complete a long questionnaire and attend an interview with an Atos employee.
The job centre saw less footfall from October to December last year, with unemployment falling and the number of those in work rising, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Unemployment rates fell by 14,000 to 2.5 million, for the first time in two years, while the number of those in employment rose by 154,000 to 29.7 million. However, 163,000 were included as employed who were on government sponsored training programmes.
More than 580,000 people were counted as employed compared to this time last year. The ONS added that by the end of December there were 29.73 million UK people in employment. Of this, 73 percent were in full time work and the rest working part-time.
The ONS also found that the number of people in the UK claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell by 12,500 to 1.54 million, while some in work also saw a rise in wages, with the organisation finding total pay – including bonuses – rose by 1.4 percent and regular pay – excluding bonuses – rose by 1.3 percent from the same period in 2011.
In monetary terms this meant that average weekly earnings excluding
bonus payments stood at £445 in December 2012, before taxes and other deductions from gross pay, up from £439 a year earlier.
The statistics also show that youth unemployment increased by 11,000 to 974,000 – the highest rise for a year.
Other figures showed the number of self-employed workers increased by 25,000 to 4.2 million, and the number of people with more than one job increased by 41,000 to 1.1 million.