The number of people collecting jobless benefits fell 32,900 from February to 1.54 million, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. Unemployment measured by International Labour Organization methods rose to 2.5 million in the quarter through February.
In February, the number of jobless claims fell by 40,100 instead of the 32,300 drop originally reported. The decline was the largest since June 1997. In March, the claimant count rate fell to 4.8 percent, the lowest since June, from 4.9 percent.
Today’s report shows there’s still slack in the labor market. A wider survey-based measure of unemployment based on ILO counting methods rose 43,000 to 2.5 million in the three months through February, the highest level since 1994.
The 8 percent jobless rate, up from 7.8 percent in the previous period, compares with 9.7 percent in the U.S. and 10 percent in the 16-nation euro region.
Employment in the same period fell 89,000 to 28.8 million, the lowest level since 2005. The number of inactive people, including students, those on long-term sick leave or people who have given up looking for work, rose 110,000 to 8.2 million, the highest since records began in 1971. Those out of work for 12 months or more climbed 89,000 to 726,000, the most since the Labour Party came to power in 1997.
The statistics office said weekly pay including bonuses climbed 2.3 percent in the three months through February from a year earlier. Regular pay rose 1.7 percent and bonus pay fell 0.7 percent. Bonuses in financial services rose 2.2 percent, the first gain since October 2008, the month after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed.