Private firms drive UK to record high jobs figures after the largest quarterly fall in unemployment for a decade

More people are working than ever before after the largest quarterly fall in unemployment for over a decade, figures have shown.

During the three months to October the number of people out of work fell by 82,000 to 2.51 million, the Office for National Statistics revealed.

This jobless total, which is 128,000 lower than last year, is further evidence that UK unemployment is heading in the right direction.

Meanwhile, employment figures reached a record high with a climb of 40,000 to 29.6 million. This is 500,000 higher than a year ago and the largest figure since records began in 1971.

Although the figures revealed a continuing slump for the public sector, recruitment drives by private firms were more than capable of picking up the slack.

With cuts to spending having an ongoing effect, employment in the public sector dropped for the 12th consecutive quarter, with a fall of 24,000 to 5.7 million, which is the lowest for a decade.

Civil service employment fell to the lowest level since records began in 1999 with a drop of 3,000 to 455,000. Local government employment also hit a record low after a fall of 32,000 took it to 2.5 million.

But in sharp contrast, an increase of 65,000 in private sector employment took its total to 23.8 million, which is the highest ever recorded.

Another welcome statistic was that the amount of people claiming jobseeker's allowance dropped by 3,000 to 1.58 million last month. This was a particularly good piece of news following two back-to-back monthly rises.

However, the number of people officially classed as economically inactive, such as people on long-term sick leave, taking care of a family, or those that have simply given up on finding work, actually increased by 60,000 to 9.07 million.

There was also a rise of 6,000 in those that have been out of work for more than two years, taking the total to 449,000.

The number of people out of work for more than a year was 904,000, which remains the same from the previous quarter.

Copyright Press Association 2012