Jobs in the private sector have mushroomed by 700,000 in the past year, say new stats, as employment rises 131,000 in the last quarter

Some 700,000 more people joined the private sector in the past year - boosting the overall figures to record levels, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the number of people working in this sphere has swollen by more than 1,250,000 in the past three years.

Mark Hoban, Minister for Employment, praised UK businesses and recruiters for achieving these figures during the current economic climate.

The boom in people embarking on a career in the private sector has more than compensated the 398,000 drop in public sector employment.

The ONS statistics show that the number of people in work has ballooned by 131,000 in the past quarter.

Unemployment has risen by 7,000 over the past three months, but the position is better than it was 12 months earlier.

The number of jobless people is 136,000 lower than it was in February 2012, and the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance dropped once more in February.

Welfare system changes have led to the number of people who are economically idle - this means being neither in employment nor looking for work - falling to its lowest rate in more than 20 years.

More people are moving into the labour market to find jobs. Worklessness overall dropped by more than 100,000 over the past three months.

The number of people claiming one of the main out of work benefits has plummeted by more than 250,000 since May 2010.

Monday's numbers show the number of people out of a job and seeking work for more than 12 months dipped by 16,000.

Mr Hoban said it is a "credit" to businesses that the private sector is employing 1,250,000 more people than when the coalition Government took office, helping Britain compete in the global race.

He said the new figures show that the Government is helping people to move off benefits and into work against a difficult economic backdrop.

Mr Hoban added: "There are still tough challenges ahead which is why we're working hard to give jobseekers all the help and support they need to realise their aspiration of finding a job."

Copyright Press Association 2013