16 August 2012 10:33
Unemployment has fallen to its lowest level for a year after a leap in the number of people in work, especially in London, suggesting that the Olympic Games helped to boost jobs in the capital.
The jobless total fell by 46,000 in the quarter to June to 2.56 million, a trend seen for the past few months.
The number claiming jobseeker's allowance last month was 1.59 million, down by 5,900 on June, whilst almost 30 million people were in work, up by 201,000.
Most of the quarterly fall in unemployment was recorded in London, which has just hosted the Olympics and is gearing up for the Paralympics in two weeks' time.
Analysts said the figures are "almost impossible" to explain, while union leaders warned that dole queues could start rising again.
Other data shows that the number of part-time workers reached a record high of 8.07 million.
The number working part-time because they cannot find a full-time job is 1.42 million, the highest since records began in 1992.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "These are positive and encouraging figures demonstrating the strength of our private sector, notwithstanding the difficult economic times, it is still creating jobs, the vast majority of which are full-time."
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Today's fall in unemployment is welcome but there are worrying trends brewing and with the economy getting smaller, it may only be a matter of time before the dole queues start rising again."
Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: "The only certainty in the latest labour market figures is uncertainty."
Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "The labour market continues to defy gravity and is performing remarkably well given the extended weakness of the economy. It is very hard to reconcile employment growth of 201,000 in the three months to June with GDP contraction of 0.7% quarter on quarter in the second quarter, especially as this was a third successive quarter of decline."
Sectors showing the biggest increase in jobs in recent months include wholesale, retail and motor vehicle repairs.