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UK unemployment reached 2.52 million between January and November, new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show today. This represents a decline of 136,000 from a year ago but a rise of 7,000 from the previous quarter.
The jobless rate was 7.8% in the period, compared to 8.3% a year ago. Unemployment was highest in the North East which posted a rate of 9.8%, compared to the lowest figures seen in the South West at just 5.8%.
The data also showed a rise in the employment rate, which grew +1.1% year-on-year to 71.5%. There were 29.73 million people in employment, up 590,000 from the prior year. Employment was the highest in the South East and East of England at 74.9%. The lowest level was recorded in the North East at 67.2%.
The number of people claiming jobseeker's allowances in February fell to 1.54 million, the lowest level since June 2011, the ONS said.
Other data from the ONS shows that public sector employment fell for the thirteenth consecutive quarter in Q4 2012, by 20,000 to 5.722 million. Employment in UK local government dropped by 32,000, compared to a decrease of 4,000 in the civil service. Private sector employment meanwhile increased for the sixth consecutive quarter, by an estimated 151,000 to 24.010 million.
Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: “Today's figures show that, against a difficult economic backdrop, we're helping people to move off benefits and into work. There are still tough challenges ahead which is why we're working hard to give jobseekers all the help and support they need to realise their aspiration of finding a job.”