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Unemployment down to 2.46 million

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 11 August 2010

The number of people aged 16 and over in full time employment has seen its biggest quarterly increase for 21 years, according to statistics released today, but fears remain about job losses when public sector cuts are introduced.

UK unemployment fell to 2.46 million, helped along by a surge of people taking up part-time jobs who may have struggled to find full-time, permanent work. A record 7.8 million people are in part-time work, up by 115,000.

The number of people in employment aged 16 or over increased by 184,000 in the last quarter to June, to reach 29 million - the largest quarterly increase since 1989.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the quarterly figures today.

People in full-time work did also increase, however - up by 68,000 people to 21.2 million.

The figures also show the sixth successive fall in the claimant count for those on Jobseeker's Allowance, down 3,800 to just fewer than 1.5 million.

The "unemployment rate" is 7.8 per cent, and job vacancies also increased by 9,000 during the period, to 481,000. This is an increase of 51,000 year-on-year, and represents 1.8 vacancies per 100 jobs.  

However, the positive employment figures now have done little to calm fears over mass unemployment to come when the coalition government's plans to make major public sector cuts come into effect.

There are also some worrying signs within the ONS data on long-term unemployment, with the numbers of people out of work for more than a year up to a 13-year high of 796,000.

A survey of 600 employers early this week by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development predicted that unemployment would rise as a result of public sector cuts, despite some improvement in private sector take up.

One third of the employers surveyed expected to cut jobs in the next three months - the worst figure for a year.

The Treasury has estimated that 600,000 public sector jobs will be lost over the next five years.

Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "Unemployment could well continue to fall in the near term, but we suspect that it will start to head back up later this year and then increase further in 2011 and early 2012."

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