The government has welcomed the drop in the December unemployment numbers and youth unemployment figures but warned that the jobless total was still expected to rise again before the summer.
Office for National Statistics figures show a 7,000 drop in unemployment (to 2.46 million), a 15,200 drop in the jobseekers' allowance claimant count (to 1.606 million) and a 7,600 drop in the youth claimant count in December. Moreover, the employment level fell by less than in previous quarters and the number of vacancies increased.
These figures mean that unemployment is 450,000 lower than predicted at the time of the Budget last April, reflecting the £5bn extra investment in expanding education and training, supporting jobs and helping the unemployed back to work. Even more support for young people is being introduced later this month.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Yvette Cooper had this to say:
"The jobs market is still tough for a lot of people, but the drop in unemployment, particularly 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."
While there were 182,000 redundancies in September to November, this was down 31,000 on the previous quarter and down 46,000 on the same time last year.