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Wednesday, 17 November, 1999, 10:09 GMT
UK unemployment falls again
Unemployment in the UK fell again in October, while the number of people in work rose to a new record.

Official figures show that the number of people claiming benefit fell by 8,400 to 1,204,000 - the lowest figure since April 1980.

The unemployment rate remained at 4.2%, also the lowest for almost 20 years.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) quarterly total for July to September, which includes people looking for work but not eligible for benefit, fell by 39,000 to 1,721,000 - a rate of 5.9%.

Record employment

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures also show that the number of people in work has risen to a new record of 27.5m - an increase of 329,000 in the year.

The rise means the employment rate now stands at 74.2% - the highest since spring 1990.

The Employment Minister, Tessa Jowell, said: "This record number of people in jobs clearly shows that the government's policies of moving people from welfare into work and of making work pay are taking effect.

"We have low interest rates and low inflation. The key challenge now is to continue to steer a course of stability and steady growth and ensure there is no return to boom and bust."

Manufacturing hit

Despite the healthy employment figures, the ONS reported a continuing decline in manufacturing jobs, down by 156,000 to 3,971,000 in the three months to September.

The largest fall has been in textiles and leather firms, while nuclear fuels and coke reported increases.

Manufacturing productivity in the same quarter was 4.3% higher than a year ago, while unit wage costs in the sector were 0.3% lower.

The number of new vacancies notified to job centres last month increased by 7,800 to a near-record 240,600, while the stock of unfilled jobs was up by 24,400 in October to 340,800.

The claimant count fell in every region of the UK in October.

The figures also revealed a big increase in the number of people in part-time jobs - up by 28,000 in the three months to September to 6.83m.

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Chris Giles reports for the BBC
The BBC's Chris Giles reports on the unemployment figures
See also:

15 Sep 99 | Business
09 Nov 99 | Business
30 Oct 99 | Business
17 Nov 99 | Business
28 Sep 99 | Business
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