Fewer people claiming jobseeker's allowance while employment reaches record high, but long-term and youth unemployment rates increase

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show fewer people are claiming jobseeker's allowance than at any point since February 2009 and employment is higher than ever.

However, the encouraging numbers are offset by long-term and youth unemployment rates going up.

The number of claimants dropped for the ninth month in a row in July, by 29,200 to 1.4 million, the lowest level in over four years.

Overall unemployment, which includes people not entitled to benefits, went down by 4,000 to 2.5 million in the three months to June.

But the number of people between the ages of 16 and 24 without a job rose by 15,000 to 973,000, while 474,000 had been looking for work for over two years, up by 10,000 to a 16-year high.

The ONS has also revealed typical weekly earnings, including bonuses, climbed by 2.1% in the 12 months to June and 0.3% month-on-month.

It represents the biggest increase in two years but the department attributed this to extraordinarily high bonus payments in April.

The number of people in employment went up by 69,000 to an all-time high of 29.78 million in the three months to June. The figure has grown by 301,000 in the past 12 months, leaving an employment rate of 71.5%.

The unemployment rate has held steady at 7.8%, still way above the 7% figure that will trigger higher interest rates.

The number of people considered economically inactive - a figure that includes those taking care of an ill relative or who have stopped trying to find a job - dropped by 10,000 in the last three months to almost nine million, giving a rate of 22%.

The ONS said the proportion of people between the ages of 16 and 64 in work is almost at pre-recession levels. However, the employment rate is not reflecting this because of an additional 673,000 people in this age group.

The employment rate for men remained at 76% but the women's rate rose by 0.1% to 66.7%.

Meanwhile, self-employment has increased by 6,000 to 4.1 million and there are now 111,000 unpaid family workers, a rise of 6,000.

Copyright Press Association 2013