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Working population at record high
The number of people in work has reached a record high, although more are in part-time jobs than ever, official figures have revealed.
Employment grew in the quarter to August by 212,000 to 29.59 million, the highest since records began in 1971.
Unemployment fell by 50,000 in the same period to 2.53 million, the lowest since the spring, giving a jobless rate of 7.9%. The numbers claiming jobseeker's allowance fell by 4,000 in September to 1.57 million, the third consecutive monthly fall and the lowest total since July 2011.
The Office for National Statistics also reported that part-time employment increased by 125,000 between March and May to a record high of 8.13 million. The number of people in part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work was close to a record high at 1.4 million.
Youth unemployment fell by 62,000 to 957,000, the lowest figure for over a year. Self-employment has also increased, up by 35,000 to 4.2 million, while the number of unpaid workers in a family business rose by 2,000 to 112,000.
The data also showed a rise of 13,000 in the number of people on Government-supported training and employment programmes to 158,000. Economic inactivity, including those looking after a sick relative or who have given up looking for work, fell by 138,000 in the latest quarter to just over nine million.
Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said: "It's a real landmark to see more people in work than ever before. Despite the tough economic times, the private sector continues to create jobs and our welfare reforms are encouraging people to return to work - with 170,000 fewer people on the main out-of-work benefits than in May 2010.
"The big fall in youth unemployment is particularly welcome, but we know this remains a challenge, which is why we have the £1 billion Youth Contract offering nearly 500,000 work experience places, apprenticeships and wage incentives to help young people get a job."
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "These may be the best figures for some time, but we still need to do much, much better. There are still hundreds of thousands of young people without work, over a million people working part-time who want full time-jobs, and wages are still trailing below inflation."
David Kern, of the British Chambers of Commerce, said the figures were encouraging but added: "The overall economic situation remains difficult. There is little doubt that the economy has been stagnant for too long, and forceful measures are needed to ensure that we return to sustainable positive growth."