Drop in jobless total continues

The government was given some welcome economicnews yesterday when unemployment continued to fall and the number ofpeople in work reached a record high.

The government was given some welcome economic

news yesterday when unemployment continued to fall and the number of

people in work reached a record high.

The employment level was 29.5 million in the three months to February, the best since records began in 1971, while unemployment fell by 39,000 to 1.6 million.

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But the Office for National Statistics revised the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance in February, which showed a rise of 600 instead of a previously reported fall of 2,800.

The change, following a routine annual review of seasonal adjustments, brought to an end 16 consecutive monthly falls in the claimant count and was the first rise since September 2006.

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The jobseeker's allowance total fell last month by 1,200 from the revised February figure to 794,300, the lowest figure since the summer of 1975.

Employment levels rose by 152,000 in the latest quarter and by 456,000 over the year.

But manufacturing jobs continued to be lost, down by 27,000 to 2.9 million in the three months to February, the lowest since records began in 1978.

Ian Brinkley, economist at the Work Foundation, said: “Despite the jittery atmosphere about the economic outlook at the moment, the labour market still looks very solid. Employment growth across the private sector has been strong and unemployment has fallen.

“We can expect worse news to come, but as far as the labour market is concerned there is nothing to suggest we are on the verge of a recession.”

In separate figures released yesterday, Norfolk's jobless figures fell in the month to March 13.

The number claiming jobseeker's allowance in the county fell by 146 and stood at 10,821. The unemployment rate remained at 2.2pc.

The district breakdown for the county was Breckland 1,407 (+76), Broadland 789 (+8), North Norfolk 977 (-59), Norwich 2,759 (-35), South Norfolk 805 (-54), West Norfolk 1,611 (+5) and Yarmouth 2,473 (-141).

Suffolk saw a fall of 169 to 7,360, with Waveney down 111 at 1,950 and Forest Heath up five at 424.

The number of jobless people in Cambridgeshire rose by 49 to 4,700, with Fenland rising 14 to 1,157.

In Lincolnshire, the figure fell by 211 to 7,772, with the South Holland number up 25 at 796.

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