UK unemployment falls slightly

Unemployment in the UK fell by 4,000 in the three months to June, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown.

A sharp fall was also shown in the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, which fell by 29,000 to 1.4 million in the month to July.
There are now 29.78 million people in work in the UK, up 69,000 from January to March 2013.

The slight fall in the number of people out of work came alongside yesterday's drop in inflation to 2.8 per cent in July.

Despite the welcome news, the UK's unemployment rate remains unchanged at 7.8 per cent, still above the Bank of England's seven per cent target.

Last week, the Bank of England set out its new monetary regime, saying it would keep bank rates at their current level of 0.5 per cent until unemployment falls below the seven per cent mark.

Elsewhere in the ONS data, long term unemployment - those out of work for more than one and two years - was shown to increase, while youth employment (16-24 year-olds) also rose by 15,000 in the three months to June.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Despite some concerns, such as higher youth and long-term unemployment, the overall picture is one of a slowly improving labour market."

"But firms are now under increased pressure to create jobs - otherwise those returning [to the workforce] will find themselves unemployed."
He added: "At a time when the government's austerity plan remains in force and the public sector is shrinking, we are pleased to see the private sector is determined and able to create jobs. But it needs more support to sustain this, through increasing the flow of credit to viable businesses, a continued focus on keeping inflation low, and to reverse the large fall in investment in the UK that we have seen in recent years."