News Column

Jobless rate plummets at fastest pace in 17 years

January 23, 2014

Prime Minister, David Cameron leaves No. 10 Downing Street , yesterday to attend Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament. Commenting on yesterday's unemployment data the premier said "more jobs means more security, peace of mind and opportunity for the British people." London Evening Standard/ London The number of people out of work is plummeting faster than at any time since 1997, as the fast-recovering British economy powers out of the austerity era. The jobless total dropped by a remarkable 167,000 in the three months to November to 2.32mn 7.1% of the working population and the lowest figure since spring 2009, official figures revealed yesterday. The fall, the biggest since the Nineties boom, means the unemployment rate is on the brink of hitting the 7% threshold at which Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said he will start to consider raising interest rates. However, the Bank yesterday sought to ease any fears that mortgage rates will soon start to go up just as the economy is returning to full health. The minutes of its key rate-setting committee's most recent meeting revealed that it "saw no immediate need to raise Bank Rate even if the seven per cent unemployment threshold were to be reached in the near future". Yesterday's unexpectedly impressive jobless figures also revealed that the number of people in work rose 280,000 to a record 30.15mn the biggest quarterly increase in employment on record. They were hailed by the coalition as the latest compelling evidence of the recovery's strength and a major boost to the credibility of George Osborne's stewardship of the economy. In a message on Twitter, David Cameron said: "More jobs means more security, peace of mind and opportunity for the British people." Of the 280,000 new jobs created from September to November, 220,000 were full-time a sign that increasingly confident employers are more willing to take workers on. The number of people working part-time because they could not find full-time jobs was down by 12,000 to 1.4mn. David Morel , managing director of London -based Tiger Recruitment, said: "Both permanent and temporary markets are very busy, with employers across all sectors hiring at all levels. "A rise in the number of active employers has been matched by a significant increase in applicants looking for new jobs. "People sense that there are more opportunities out there and they are making more of an effort as a result." Yesterday's figures showed that earnings have not yet started to accelerate, despite the hiring boom. Pay rose just 0.9% on average, compared with a year previously well below the 2% inflation rate. Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said: "Yesterday's fall in overall unemployment is welcome. The government should use this opportunity to tackle the unacceptably high levels of long-term unemployment and youth unemployment. More than 900,000 young people are unemployed and over 250,000 young people are long-term unemployed." In London unemployment fell by 18,000 to 354,000, or 8.1%. The number of people in work in the capital rose by 54,000 to 4.009mn the first time on record the figure has been above the 4mn mark. Yesterday's figures come ahead of next week's announcement about how fast the economy grew in the last three months of 2013 with some forecasts pointing to growth of as much as 0.9%. The development will complete a remarkable turnaround for an economy that just a year ago appeared on course for a historic triple-dip recession. Employment minister Esther McVey said young jobseekers should "absolutely" be prepared to take "entry level" posts with employers such as Costa Coffee to give themselves a chance to get on in their careers. She told the Daily Mail: "We have to get kids to the right standard so that everyone wants to employ them." The falling unemployment and higher tax receipts helped the government cut the annual deficit in December, according to the latest official figures. The Office for National Statistics said net borrowing, excluding the temporary effects of bank rescues and the Royal Mail pension fund transfer, was 12.1bn in December, 2.1bn lower than the figure recorded a year ago. Scotland fares better than the rest of UK Reuters/ London The Scottish government brandished a drop in unemployment to its lowest in almost five years as proof of the strength of its economy, saying this backed its argument that Scotland would be better off as an independent country. The unemployment rate fell 0.9 percentage points to 6.4% in the three months to November, giving Scotland a lower unemployment rate and higher youth employment rate than the rest of the UK where the overall jobless rate was 7.1%. The figures came as a survey yesterday showed that the economy mattered more to voters ahead of September's independence vote than issues such as European Union membership and staying in a currency union with the British pound. While most polls only show about 30% support for independence, a ScotCen Social Research survey found over half of voters, 52%, would support independence if breaking away made them 500 a year better off. By contrast, only 15% would vote to end Scotland's 307-year union with England if it made them 500 a year worse off while 72% would oppose such a move. Scotland's Finance Secretary John Swinney said the latest data showed Scottish policies to create jobs and boost the economy were working, although a new index yesterday showed export sales fell 2.2% in the third quarter of 2013. "Over the last 12 months, manufacturing is a sector that has seen growth but the recovery remains fragile as a result of European trading conditions and the Westminster government's continued pursuit of austerity," Swinney said in a statement. "With the full fiscal and economic powers of independence, we can take a different approach to Westminster austerity and do more to strengthen our economy, boost exports and create jobs."

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Source: Gulf Times (Qatar)

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