The employment rate for September to November 2009 was 72.4 per cent. This is the lowest since the winter of 1996-97 and is down 0.1 on the quarter. The number of people in employment fell by 14,000 on the quarter to reach 28.92 million. The number of people in full-time employment fell by 113,000 on the quarter while the number of people in part-time employment increased by 99,000 on the quarter to reach a record high of 7.71 million. There were 1.03 million employees and self-employed people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job. This is the highest figure since records for this series began in 1992 and it is up 46,000 on the quarter.

The unemployment rate for September to November 2009 was 7.8 per cent, unchanged on the quarter. The number of unemployed people fell by 7,000 over the quarter to reach 2.46 million. This is the first quarterly fall in the number of unemployed people since the three months to May 2008. The number of people unemployed for more than 12 months increased by 29,000 over the quarter to reach 631,000, the highest figure since the three months to November 1997.

A comparison between unemployment and Gross Domestic Product is available at:

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (the claimant count) in December 2009 fell by 15,200 on the month to reach 1.61 million. This is the second consecutive monthly fall in the claimant count and the largest monthly fall since April 2007.

The inactivity rate for September to November 2009 was 21.2 per cent, up 0.2 on the quarter but below the record high of 23.3 per cent recorded in 1983. The number of inactive people of working age increased by 79,000 over the quarter to reach a record high of 8.05 million. This increase in inactivity was largely driven by the number of students not in the labour market which has increased by 81,000 on the quarter to reach 2.24 million, the highest since comparable
records began in 1993.

The number of vacancies in the three months to December 2009 was 448,000, up 16,000 compared with the previous quarter.

Average total pay (including bonuses) was £451 per week in November 2009. In the three months to November 2009 total pay rose by 0.7 per cent on a year earlier.

Average regular pay (excluding bonuses) was £424 per week in November 2009. In the three months to November 2009 regular pay rose by 1.1 per cent on a year earlier. This is the lowest annual growth rate since comparable records began in 2001.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Yvette Cooper, said:

“The jobs market is still tough for a lot of people, but the drop in unemployment and youth unemployment is very welcome. It means 450,000 fewer people are out of work than everyone expected last spring. The extra investment in jobs, education and training is making a real difference, helping people through the recession and preventing the kind of unemployment we saw in the eighties and nineties.

“However we know that things will still be difficult and unemployment is still likely to rise over the next few months. That is why we are determined to keep increasing the help and support to get people into jobs and training.”

Minster for Employment Jim Knight, said:

“These figures show the largest number of people coming off unemployment benefit for 15 years which is a sign that our £5bn investment to get people back to work is having an impact. The fact that tens of thousands more young people are taking up the Government’s guarantee of a place in education or training means that they are getting the valuable skills they need to get into work.

“New figures published today show that more than 25,000 people have benefited from the new Six Month Offer, while the sixth round of winning Future Jobs Fund bidders will create almost 6,000 more jobs for young people. This brings the total number of successful bids to create jobs through the Fund so far to almost 104,000. This is in addition to more than 400,000 people who have been helped into jobs through the Job Centres’ Local Employment Partnerships.”

The CIPD View

Dr John Philpott , Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), comments on official labour market statistics published earlier today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

“The latest unemployment figures are good news on the face of things, but only on the face of things. Taken in the round, the latest figures show that the UK jobs market remains in a far from healthy state and it would be wrong to conclude that unemployment has peaked.

“The number of people in work fell slightly in the three months to November 2009, another sharp drop (-113,000) in people working full-time not quite being fully offset by another rise in part-time employment (+99,000). The number of people working part-time is now at a record 1.03 million, as they are unable to find a full-time job.

“The reason for the fall in unemployment in the quarter is a jump of 81,000 in the number of economically inactive students – indicating that ever larger numbers of young people are turning to study to avoid the dole. This is desirable as an alternative to unemployment although it remains to be seen whether education or training is merely a stop-gap choice for thousands more young people rather than providing a genuine boost to their subsequent job prospects.

“A worrying feature of the latest figures is an indication that job prospects for the over-50s may have started to deteriorate for the first time since the start of the recession in 2008. The over-50s not only suffered a quarterly fall in employment but were also the only age group to register a rise in unemployment (up by 15,000).

“Men continue to fare less well than women in terms of employment, women benefiting more from the rise in part-time jobs. However, more women entered the labour market in search of work in the three months to November while more men exited the market, with the result that female unemployment increased and male unemployment decreased. There are now more than 1 million jobless men outside the labour market – and thus not counted as unemployed – who say they want a job.

“Finally, the ONS’ newly published Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) measure – which replaces the Average Earnings Index – paints a stark picture of the pay squeeze on private sector workers during the recession and the degree to which pay has continued to rise relatively rapidly in the public sector. The total weekly pay of private sector workers actually fell in most months of 2009, whereas in the public sector pay growth of well over 3% was common. This disparity will need to be tackled as the government gets to grips with reducing the fiscal deficit.”

The TUC View

Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

‘Today’s unexpected fall in youth unemployment is very encouraging and shows Government action is working. But with nearly a million young people still out of work, there’s a long way to go before we can talk about a healthy jobs market.

‘The first fall in overall unemployment since the recession started shows that Government investment is the best way to secure a sustained economic recovery. Cutting back on spending now could still unleash a double dip recession and send unemployment soaring.

‘Long-term unemployment is still a huge concern, and it will continue to rise well after the recession ends. Long spells out of work can increase the likelihood of mental health problems and relationship breakdown, and devastate entire communities.

‘A Universal Job Guarantee for anyone out of work for at least 12 months would give an unemployed person the best possible chance of a returning to work.’

Further information

The full ONS Statistical Bulleting covering the figures in detail, can be downloaded here.