The UK's employment rate fell 0.3% between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, according to labour market figures released today by the Office for National Statistics.
The employment rate was 72% in the first quarter, with 28.83m in work. The unemployment rate was 8%, with 2.51m jobless. This is a rise of 0.2% quarter on quarter.
The claimant count of people claiming Jobseekers' allowance was 1.52m, a fall of 27,100, beating consensus expectations of a 20,000 fall. The ONS says the claimant count has fallen for five out of the last six months.
Vicky Redwood, a senior UK economist at Capital Economics, says the data look weaker than the headline falls in the claimant count suggest.
"These falls just seem to reflect people failing to sign on," she says. "The wider ILO measure of unemployment (which includes those not claiming benefit) rose by 53,000 in the three months to March. Employment fell by an even bigger 76,000, meaning that some people are just leaving the workforce altogether.
"At least the figures on average earnings were more encouraging, with a further pick-up in regular pay growth from 1.7% to 2.2% in March. But this is still well below pre-recession rate of more than 4%."
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