Jobs: Claimant Count Hits Four-Year Low
The number of people claiming unemployment benefit dropped by almost double the forecast figure last month to a four year low.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Jobseeker's Allowance claims tumbled - for the ninth consecutive month - by 29,200 in July as the labour market strengthened
There was also a favourable revision to June's number which was revised to 29,400 - the largest monthly drop since May 2010.
While the total number of people unemployed fell by 4,000 between April and June to 2.51 million, unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds increased by 15,000 to reach 973,000, while the number of people out of work for more than two years rose by 10,000 to 474,000, the highest since 1997.
The number of people in work increased by 69,000 in the quarter to 29.78 million, the highest since records began in 1971 but the ONS said the unemployment rate held steady at 7.8%.
That statistic is now closely watched after the Bank of England's new governor Mark Carney confirmed the monetary policy committee (MPC) did not envisage raising the base rate of interest until the jobless rate dropped to 7%.
It emerged today, in minutes from the bank's last MPC meeting that one member, Martin Weale, voted against the new policy of giving forward guidance on the possible movement of interest rates.
The ONS data provided better news for household incomes as average weekly earnings growth, including bonuses, accelerated to 2.1% in the period, compared with a year earlier.
The body said it represented the fastest growth since late 2011 though it still lagged way behind inflation - standing at 2.8% in July according to figures released on Tuesday.
Giving his reaction to the job statistics Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: "With 29,000 fewer people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance compared to this time last month, and more people in work than ever before, today's figures paint a positive picture of the UK labour market.
"There are now more jobs available than at any time since the end of 2008, and more hours being worked than ever before - which shows that there are opportunities out there for people who want to work and get on in life."
But Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, was less upbeat.
He said: "Today's small drop in unemployment rates masks the damaging growth of under-employment plaguing the country and stifling economic recovery.
"A toxic combination of part-time, minimum wage, zero-hours working is spreading across the country, as decently paid, full-time opportunities become increasingly rare.
"We know that just a few months ago there were, on average, almost four people chasing every vacant job in England, Scotland and Wales. For young people desperate to get their first job, these are desperate times. Getting the work experience they need to get a start in life is hard to find."