The UK labour market is improving

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits fell by 29,200 in July, beating expectations of a fall of 15,000. By comparison, the claimant count fell by an upwardly revised 29,400 in June. The claimant count rate was 4.3 per cent down slightly from 4.4 per cent the month before.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also released details of employment figures for the three months to June 2013.

In the period, the unemployment rate was 7.8 per cent - the same as in the January to March period as expected - but fell 0.2 per cent compared to a year earlier.

The number of people out of work was 2.51m - a fall of 4,000 from the first quarter of the year, and down 49,000 from the year before. The inactivity rate fell 0.3 percentage points on an annual basis to 22.3 per cent (8.99m people).

Employment for those aged 16 to 64, meanwhile, rose 0.1 percentage points from the first quarter to 71.5 per cent, and was up 0.4 percentage points from a year earlier. There were 29.78m people in employment aged 16 and over, up 69,000 from January to March 2013 and up 301,000 from a year earlier.

And the private sector drove employment improvements in the first quarter, with employment in the sector growing by 46,000 between December 2012 and March 2013 to 24.06m, while public sector employment fell 22,000 to 5.70m.

Meanwhile, average earnings in the UK rose by 2.1 per cent in the three months to June compared to the same period in 2012. Analysts had expected to see a 2.0 per cent increase following the upwardly revised 1.8 per cent rise the quarter before.

Exluding bonuses, earnings rose by 1.1 per cent from 1.0 per cent the quarter before.