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Wednesday, 18 October, 2000, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
UK unemployment hits new low
UK unemployment graph
Unemployment in the UK fell again in September and now stands just above one-million - a level last seen in the 1970s.

Official figures from the National Statistics office show the number of people out of work and claiming benefit has declined by 16,400 compared with the previous month to 1,035,300.

Regional jobless rates/figs (,000)
NE: 9.2% 111
NW: 5.2% 170
York/Humb: 6.1% 152
E Mids: 4.6% 99
W Mids: 5.8% 151
East: 3.7% 103
SE: 3% 129
London: 7.1% 259
SW: 4.1% 103
Scot: 6.6% 169
Wales: 6% 80
N Ire: 6.1% 45
Source: ILO
The rate of unemployment remains at 3.6% - its lowest since 1975.

The 16,400 drop was slightly more than had been expected by economists.

Unemployment is now on course to dip below the one-million mark before Christmas, assuming the current trend continues.

Employment Secretary David Blunkett said the figures were "further confirmation" that the Government's policies were working.

Breaking records

ILO unemployment, which includes people not claiming benefit and is the standard measure across the EU, fell by 100,000 to a record low of 1,568,000 in the June-August quarter.

This gives a rate of 5.3% - the lowest since the International Labour Organisation's method of counting was introduced.

This compares with 5.6% in the preceding three months and 5.9% a year earlier.

The number of people in employment in the UK stood at 27,989,000 in August - an increase of 330,000 over the previous 12 months and the highest figure on record.

The rise in employment is mainly driven by the service sector, while jobs continue to be lost in manufacturing.

In the three months to August, the number of people working in manufacturing fell by 83,000 to 3,956,000.

Average earnings

Official average earnings figures are released at the same time as the unemployment statistics.

They showed a rate of 3.9% in the year to August, which was unchanged from the previous month.

Growth continued to be faster in private firms than in the public sector - at 4.1%, compared with 3.5% in public organisations.

Juli Collins of BNP Paribas said of the earnings figures: "Bang in line with expectations. No big surprises here.

"If you look at average earnings ex-bonuses we saw a modest rise in August from July but nothing alarming, with July having been revised down but still overall showing there are very limited inflation pressures on the earnings front."

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