Developing

Youth Unemployment Falls Amid Jobs Record

There has been the biggest quarterly fall in unemployment for a decade amid a welcome drop in the number of young people without work.

The Office for National Statistics said unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds fell by 72,000 to 945,000 in the three months to October.

It helped drive a fall of 82,000 in the total jobless total to 2.51 million - with a record number of people now in work after what the ONS said was the biggest quarterly fall in unemployment since the spring of 2001.

The jobless total was down by 128,000 on a year ago.

Employment jumped by 40,000 to 29.6 million, the highest figure since records began in 1971 and up by half a million on a year ago.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell unexpectedly in November by 3,000 to 1.58 million following rises in the previous two months. Analysts had expected an increase of 7,000.

The figures highlighted the growing gulf between public and private sector employment as public sector jobs fell for the 12th consecutive quarter, by 24,000 to 5.7 million, the lowest since 2002.

Employment in the civil service was cut by 3,000 to 455,000, the lowest since records began in 1999, while local government employment also fell to a record low of 2.5 million after a cut of 32,000.

Private sector employment rose by 65,000 in the latest quarter to 23.8 million, the highest on record.

That figure was seized on by employment minister Mark Hoban as proof that the Government is delivering on its economic programme.

He told Sky News: "Cynics were saying the private sector wouldn't step up to the plate, they wouldn't create the jobs ...to offset losses in the public sector but we've seen in the last year an extra half a million people in work."

But Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, claimed that the Government's handling of the economy meant that millions of families faced another miserable Christmas with "little hope of things getting better".

He said: "Instead of the recovery the Government inherited in 2010, the economy faces a triple dip recession due to the failed and futile attempt to deflate their way to growth."

At Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, the Labour leader Ed Miliband welcomed the fall in unemployment but highlighted stubborn long-term unemployment and sought assurances from David Cameron that more would be done to tackle it.