Number of people in work in UK hits record high of just under 30m, in news welcomed by Employment Minister

The UK's employment levels have reached a record high, according to newly released official figures.

The landmark has been welcomed by Employment Minister Mark Hoban who said the private sector is continuing to create jobs in spite of the "tough economic times", meaning less people are having to claim benefits for being out of work.

According to the new figures the number of people in jobs rose during the quarter to August by 212,000, taking the total to 29.59 million, the highest reading since records started in 1971.

Over the same three-month period, unemployment dropped by 50,000 to 2.53 million, the lowest it has been since the spring. The decrease took the UK's unemployment rate to 7.9%.

And there was more good news in September when the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance decreased to 1.57 million thanks to a 4,000 drop. The decrease was the third monthly drop in a row, giving the lowest total since July last year.

The number of young people out of work is also falling, according to the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Youth unemployment dropped 62,000 to 957,000, the lowest figure in more than 12 months.

Meanwhile, self-employment is on the up. The number of people working for themselves jumped 35,000 to 4.2 million with a rise of 2,000 to 112,000 in the number of unpaid workers in a family business.

Commenting on the figures Mr Hoban said: "It's a real landmark to see more people in work than ever before. Despite the tough economic times, the private sector continues to create jobs and our welfare reforms are encouraging people to return to work with 170,000 fewer people on the main out-of-work benefits than in May 2010."

The figures also showed part-time employment rose by 125,000 between March and May to hit a record high of 8.13 million. And a near record number of them - 1.4 million - were working fewer hours as they had been unable to find full-time jobs.

Those on Government-supported training and employment schemes increased 13,000 to 158,000, according to the ONS.

The latest quarter saw a 138,000 drop to just over nine million in the number who were economically inactive. This figure includes people looking after a sick relative.

Copyright Press Association 2012