Joblessness plunges as private sector job creation accelerates

Tim Wallace
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UNEMPLOYMENT tumbled in the three months to April, official figures showed yesterday, while the squeeze on incomes eased to a 30-month low.

Employment rose 166,000 to 29.281m, while unemployment fell 51,000 to 2.615m, or 8.2 per cent – down from 8.4 per cent in the previous three months, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Figures for the first quarter of the year showed a 39,000 drop in public sector employment, far outstripped by a 205,000 rise in private jobs.

Male unemployment fell 49,000 in the three months to April, to 8.7 per cent, while female joblessness fell by 1,000 to 7.7 per cent.

Those new jobs were split between part-time, which accounted for 83,000, and full-time, which made up 82,000. Similarly 83,000 are employees, while 84,000 are self-employed.

However, the figures also showed a 2,000 rise in the number of people claiming jobseekers allowance over the three month period, and a rise of 8,100 from April to May.

Meanwhile, average regular pay rose 1.8 per cent to £441 per week, the largest rise of 2012 so far, and average bonuses rose 0.9 per cent – rebounding strongly after three consecutive months of drops.

The acceleration in pay growth coincides with a slowdown in inflation – consumer prices rose 2.8 per cent in the 12 months to May.

“Although pay growth continues to run behind inflation, the squeeze has clearly eased,” said Markit economist Chris Williamson. “Pay is now falling one per cent in real terms, against a peak rate of decline of 3.4 per cent last September.”