Labour Research May 2002


Jobless upward slope reversed

Unemployment - based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) definition - fell by 14,000 to 1.52 million in the three months to February or an unemployment rate of 5.1% of the workforce.

The ILO count, which includes people not eligible for benefit and is the government's preferred measure of unemployment, had risen over the last seven months.

Eight of the 12 regions saw a fall in joblessness, with the North West registering a 10,000 drop and London 8,000. However, it rose in the East and West Midlands by 4,000 and 5,000 respectively.

Unemployment as measured by the claimant count also fell. The figure in March was 939,600 representing a drop of 6,000 and a jobless rate of 3.1%. This was the best figure since 1975.

The number of people working is now 28.4 million - the highest level since records began in 1979.

But the bad news from National Statistics was that another 164,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in the three months to February, taking employment in the manufacturing sector to 3.7 million.

Bill Morris, general secretary of the general union T&G, said: "Overall these figures are good news for the economy but we remain very concerned that manufacturing jobs continue to haemorrhage."