Employment at record high

Twenty years after unemployment hit a post-war high, the government says employment is now at record levels.

Speaking on the twentieth anniversary of the highest unemployment in post-war history, the minister for employment and welfare reform Jim Murphy says: “Twenty years ago claimant unemployment hit a post-war high.

“Since then employment is up by four million to a new record and claimant unemployment is down from over three million to less than one million.

Because of the New Deal and the end of boom and bust, there are now fewer claimant unemployed in total than there were long-term unemployed twenty years ago, and youth long-term claimant unemployment is a thing of the past.

The UK is now internationally recognised as a world leader in employment and welfare reform.”

Figures show that employment is at its highest ever level up 240 thousand this year to 28.94 million.

The number on Jobseekers’ Allowance is up by 2,000 in the month to 957,000, and ILO unemployment – the number of people looking for work, whether or not they are on benefits – has also risen, by 243 thousand on the year to 1.68 million.

The government attributes the increase in employment and ILO unemployment levels to a growing population and a fall in the number of people who are not looking for work – the economically inactive is down 108 thousand to its lowest rate for 14 years.

Numbers on other benefits continue to fall. Figures published by DWP show the number on incapacity benefits down 52 thousand in the year to February to their lowest for six years, with numbers on lone parent benefits down 16 thousand.

Murphy adds: “Whole communities were written off 20 years ago.

Double digit unemployment rates were the norm and many areas suffered from 20% or 30% out of work.

We have come a long way, but we cannot stop now. That is why the next stage of our welfare reforms will be the most ambitious yet.

We are determined to extend employment opportunities to give those traditionally left behind by the system, particularly those on incapacity benefits, who can and want to work, the support they need to move into the labour market.”