Just in time for today’s Budget, figures showed employment is at a record high. George Osborne will be pleased.
The number of people in work was 30.2 million in the period from November 2013 to January 2014, up 105,000 on the last quarter and 459,000 more than the previous year. The unemployment rate stayed put at 7.2% compared to October to December, although the number of people out of work fell 63,000 to 2.33 million in the quarter.
All in all the conveniently-timed figures look pretty good - youth unemployment fell by 29,000 to 912,00 and those out of work for more than a year was down 38,000 to 828,000. The number of people working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job was also down, falling by 32,000 to 1.4 million, although it was still 41,000 than a year ago.
Public sector employment fell 159,000 to 5.5 million in the last quarter of 2013, the lowest since December 1999, mainly due to Royal Mail’s privatisation. If the government eventually gets round to selling off its shares in RBS and Lloyds it’ll fall even further, as the banks minions are currently counted as public sector employees.
Meanwhile, the number of people who are economically inactive - long-term sick, those caring for relatives and people who have given up looking for work - fell to 8.9 million, although only by 19,000.
An interesting thing to note is that means the number of women out of the workforce is the lowest ever, at 5.6 million. Meanwhile, the proportion of economically inactive men has actually been going up:
Source: Office for National Statistics
What’s the betting George Osborne will have his smug face on for the Budget?