Jobless Figures: Up or down?

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Tony Blair might have received a reprimand for leaking the latest jobless figures in an interview – but the full picture is rather more complicated than the PM painted.

For although the number of people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance has fallen by 3,900 during the past month to 950,100; the number of people looking for work (ILO unemployed) has risen by 280,000 over the past year to 1.7 million.

John Hutton, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said the reason for the rise in ILO unemployed was the increasing number of previously economically inactive people now looking for work.

The economic activity rate is now 79.1 per cent – the highest for over 14 years – which means the proportion of people in or looking for work has risen faster than the population. The number of people in employment is at a new record high of 28.98 million, a rise of 220,000 over the past year.

Job vacancies remain high: the Office of National Statistics estimates that there were 608,800 unfilled vacancies in the three months to August 2006, up 14,800 on the previous quarter.

More than 10,000 new vacancies are placed at Jobcentres every working day, with at least as many again being posted through other recruitment channels.

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