Unemployment falls to lowest for seven years - but it's rising in North East

Unemployment is continuing to rise in the North East, according to latest ONS statistics.
Unemployment is continuing to rise in the North East, according to latest ONS statistics.
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Unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in over seven years, according to new figures out today - but the North East continues to be the UK's jobless blackspot.

The jobless total nationally fell by 102,000 in the quarter to September, to 1.75 million - 103,000 fewer than the previous three months and 210,000 down on a year ago.

The number of people in work has continued to increase, to a record high of 31.2 million, 419,000 more than a year ago and up by 177,000 over the quarter.

But the number of people registered as unemployed in the North East increased by 6,000 in that period, to 109,000, or 8.6% of the working population.

It is one of just three areas of the country where unemployment rose in the third quarter of the year, the others being Scotland and Wales.

The figures, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) cover people on Jobseeker's Allowance and those on the out of work element of Universal Credit.

Average earnings increased by 2.5% in the year to September, down by 0.3% on the previous month.

Other figures showed that the number of people classed as economically inactive fell by 22,000, to just under nine million, in the latest period, the lowest for more than a year.

The figure includes students, those on long-term sick leave, looking after a relative or who have given up looking for work.

The employment rate has reached 73.7%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.

The record rate for women (69%) is partly due to changes in the state pension age, resulting in fewer retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.

ONS statistician Nick Palmer said: "These figures continue the recent strengthening trend in the labour market, with a new record high in the employment rate and the unemployment rate still at its lowest level since spring 2008.

"Earnings continue to grow, albeit the rate for regular pay has fallen back a little from recent months."

The number of job vacancies fell by 5,000 over the last quarter to 736,000, while self-employment has increased by 30,000 to 4.5 million.

The number of people working part time wanting a full time job has fallen by 30,000 to 1.2 million.

The number of non-UK nationals working in this country has increased from 986,000 in 1997 to 3.2 million now. The increase reflects the admission of several new member states to the European Union.

Non-UK nationals from the EU working in this country increased by 324,000 to 2.02 million over the past year, while the figure for non-UK nationals from outside the EU was little changed at 1.2 million.

The UK's unemployment rate has fallen by 0.3% to 5.3%, compared with an EU average of 9.3%. The highest rates are in Greece (25%) and Spain (21.6%) while the lowest is in Germany (4.5%).

Employment Minister Priti Patel said: "Employment is at a record-breaking high, and wages have continued to grow strongly, demonstrating that this Government is delivering for hard-working people.

"With two million more people in work since 2010, the unemployment rate at its lowest in seven years, and the number of people on one of the main out-of-work benefits down by a million since 2010, it is clear that this Government is transforming lives for the better, and creating the higher wage, lower welfare society that British people want to see.

"But this growth is only one part of the story, because our one-nation approach involves a commitment to provide opportunity and security for everyone across the country."

Regional unemployment between July and September (region, total unemployed, change on quarter, unemployment rate):

North East, 109,000, +6,000, 8.6%

North West, 193,000, -20,000, 5.5%

Yorkshire & The Humber, 157,000, -7,000, 5.9%

East Midlands, 105,000, -7,000, 4.4%

West Midlands, 157,000, -10,000, 5.7%

East of England, 132,000, -13,000, 4.2%

London 297,000, -10,000, 6.4%

South East, 180,000, -27,000, 3.9%

South West, 110,000, -14,000, 3.9%

Wales, 93,000, +3,000, 6.1%

Scotland, 166,000, +11,000, 6.0%

Northern Ireland, 51,000, -5,000, 5.9%