New ONS figures show unemployment rate drops to 8.1% as number of unemployed people falls by 65,000 to 2.58 million

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of unemployed people fell by 65,000 to a total of 2.58 million in the three months to May, the lowest figure in nearly 12 months.

The ONS statistics also reveal an increase of 181,000 in the number of people in employment to almost 30 million, the highest figure since the end of 2008.

The number of people aged 65 or over in employment rose by 52,000 to a record high of 929,000 in the three months, more than at any point in the last 20 years. Most other age groups also saw increases in employment.

The overall unemployment rate fell from 8.3% to 8.1%, the ONS added.

Other positive figures include the statistics on the number of people who are classed as economically inactive, which dropped by 61,000 to 9.2 million, mainly because of a cut of 82,000 among students.

People who are classed as economically inactive include those caring for family members, on early retirement or who have stopped looking for work.

The ONS figures also suggest that the London Olympics are beginning to have an effect on employment, as the capital saw both the biggest falls in unemployment and the largest increase in work.

Overall there were 10,000 more job vacancies in the quarter, at a total of 471,000.

Salaries rose by an average of 1.5% in the 12 months to May, an increase of 0.1 percentage points compared to the previous month, which means the average weekly wage was 468.

The number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds fell to just over a million, 10,000 fewer than in the three months to February.

However, the ONS also pointed out that the jobless total is now 132,000 higher than it was a year ago, and the number of people claiming jobseekers' allowance rose to 1.6 million, an increase of 6,100.

The number of women claiming jobseekers' allowance jumped by 8,000 to 530,700, the highest figures since 1995.

There was also a rise in long-term unemployment, with 441,000 people out of work for at least two years and the number of people out of work for at least 12 months up by 3,000.

Copyright Press Association 2012