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UK Unemployment Figure Down By 51,000

(c) Sky News 2012

Unemployment in the United Kingdom has fallen by 51,000 in the three months to April, according to newly released statistics.

The number of people registered out of work between February and April stood at 2.61 million.

But the Government has been hit with a mixed bag of unemployment data - although the headline jobless rate fell, the number of dole claimants rose in the same period.

A total of 8,100 more people claimed jobseeker's allowance in May, taking the total to 1.6 million and ending two months of declines.

The number of people in work saw its biggest increase since the quarter to August 2010 as the employment rate increased by 166,000 to almost 29.28 million - nearly equally split between full and part-time workers.

Almost eight million people are now in a part-time job, while those working part-time because they cannot find full-time work increased by 25,000 to 1.4 million.

Self-employment has reached a record figure of 4.17 million, up by 84,000 since the previous quarter.

Average earnings increased by 1.4% in the year to April, up by 0.5 percentage points on the previous month due to the timing of bonuses.

Average weekly pay in private firms in April was £5 higher at £465 compared to a year ago.

But other figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of people unemployed for more than a year increased by 85,000 to 886,000, while those unemployed for more than two years rose by 29,000 to 434,000.

A study by the IPPR think-tank suggests that the proportion of those unemployed for more than a year is likely to go back up to the peak seen at the beginning of last year.

IPPR chief economist Tony Dolphin said: "Long-term unemployment is the hidden crisis of the slowest ever economic recovery in the UK."

The UK's unemployment rate has fallen by 0.2% to 8.2%, lower than the European average of 10.3%.

Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the EU at 24.3%, while Austria has the lowest at 3.9%.

UK youth unemployment has also fallen, down by 29,000 over the latest quarter to 1.01 million.

:: There were 9.23 million so-called economically-inactive people in the three months to April, a fall of 69,000, mainly due to a reduction in the number of students.