Has the UK turned a corner with regard to levels of unemployment? Image courtesy of iStock
Unemployment in the UK fell by 65,000 and employment rose by 181,000 to 29.35m in the three months to May, according to the latest figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
Although the figures show more job opportunities are available, with the number of vacancies at 471,000, up 10,000 on the quarter and 12,000 on a year earlier, the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance
) rose by 6,100 to 1.6million in June.
Unemployment among the 16 to 24-year-old demographic fell by 10,000 to 1.02 million.
People becoming self-employed rose by 32,000 or 0.8 percent, accounting for almost 50 percent of the jobs created during the period, to 4.16 million.
Welcoming the figures, Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling
, commented: "We still have a long way to go but this is a step in the right direction.”
Grayling added: "But, I'm at least encouraged, in what are difficult times economically that we're seeing improvements, across the board."
Employment experts also gave the news a cautious welcome. Gerwyn Davies, Labour Market Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
(CIPD), comment added: “The labour market continues to defy the laws of economic gravity, with employment up and unemployment down, despite stalling growth forecasts and stuttering confidence."
He continued: "The downside is that, for now, we have a seemingly entrenched pattern of falling productivity and subdued pay affecting the competitiveness of employers and the living standards of employees. The employment picture is encouraging, but the missing ingredient is economic growth
– without which the risk remains that another shock of any kind may send our surprisingly resilient labour market into reverse.
“The most positive aspect about the figures is that, while part-time employment continues to rise, the bulk of the growth in employment is full-time. The most worrying aspect of today’s figures is the rise in long-term unemployment
. This puts the spotlight on the Government’s Work Programme, which is tasked with getting the most disadvantaged in the labour market into sustainable employment.”