Thirty million people in jobs as employment count increases by 250,000

The employment count reached a record high of over 30 million as the Government enjoyed a pre-Christmas jobs boost.

A fall in the jobless total of 99,000 in the quarter to October was the biggest cut in more than a decade, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

It left 2.39 million unemployed, giving a rate of 7.4%, which is the lowest for more than four years.

A rise of 250,000 in the employment total during the quarter meant the number of people in work hit 30.09 million, which is almost 500,000 higher than a year ago.

Private sector employment hit a record high of 24.4 million, while there were falls in long-term and youth unemployment.

However, it was not all plain sailing, with a large number of people reluctantly taking part-time jobs rather than full-time employment.

The figures suggested that 1.47 million people were in part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work, which is the highest total since records began in 1992.

Nevertheless, there were other positive developments, such as a 45,000 fall to 8.92 million in those classed as economically inactive. The number claiming jobseeker's allowance fell for the 13th consecutive month in November as well, to reach 1.27 million.

The number of people unemployed for over a year declined by 33,000 to 866,000, which is its lowest level for more than a year, while youth unemployment fell by 19,000 to 941,000.

There was a slight increase in public sector employment by 4,000 to a total of 5.6 million, accounted for largely by the NHS, although there was a fall of 11,000 in local government.

The changes leave an employment rate of 10% for over-65s, which is the highest since records began in 1992.

Average earnings grew by 0.9% in the year to October, which is 0.1% down on the previous month and gives a weekly average of 476.

Employment Minister Esther McVey described the overall increase of a quarter of a million in the employment figure during the quarter as "really encouraging news".

She said the figures show the Government's plan to get people off benefits and into jobs is "proving successful".

Ms McVey added: "It's also thanks to British businesses up and down the country who are feeling increasingly confident about taking on workers. This is a great sign that the economy is growing."

Copyright Press Association 2013