The Guardian
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UK unemployment strikes 2008 low


unemploymentBritish unemployment has struck a seven-year low point, official data showed on Wednesday, further boosting the new government.

The number of unemployed dipped 35,000 to 1.83 million people during the first quarter, touching the lowest level since 2008, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

That took the unemployment rate for January-March to 5.5 percent — the second lowest in the European Union after Germany, and compared with 5.6 percent for the three months to February.

And in another lift for Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron — who successfully fought last week’s general election on his economic record — there was a record number of people in work.

Employment soared to an all-time high of more than 31 million people, after a gain of 202,000 in the three months to March. That took the employment rate to a record 73.5 percent.

In addition, average earnings increased by 1.9 in the year to March, 0.2 percentage points up from the previous month, giving an average weekly wage of £489 ($769, 685 euros), the ONS said.

Cameron swept back to power last week after an unexpected election victory handed his Conservative party a narrow majority in parliament for the first time in almost two decades.

“Today we see further proof the plan is working with unemployment falling, record numbers of people in work and confirmation that regular pay packets are growing at their fastest in four years, putting more in people’s pockets and stretching family budgets that bit further,” said finance minister George Osborne.

The Conservatives capitalised on their stewardship of the economy, which has staged a solid recovery since 2010 despite a first-quarter slowdown.

Capital Economics analyst Samuel Tombs added: “The continued strong performance of the UK’s labour market highlights that consumers will remain the main drivers of the economic recovery in 2015.”




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