Unemployment has taken a surprising downward turn and fallen by 7,000 in the quarter to November 2009.
Against a back drop of 2.46m who are still unemployed the fall is small but nevertheless very surprising and possibly significant.
Figures for future months will show whether this is a blip or part of a longer term trend. But for this fall to become a trend the wider economy needs to continue its slow recovery which in turn will provide companies with more confidence to hire staff on a full time and crucially permanent basis.
The figures were welcomed by Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper.
“The jobs market is still tough for a lot of people, but the drop in unemployment and youth unemployment is very welcome,” she said
“It means 450,000 fewer people are out of work than everyone expected last spring.”
But she added that unemployment would remain “difficult” for some months ahead.
Although to be welcomed the fall is partly due to the increase in part time work a large number of part time workers doing so as they cannot get full time work
Furthermore those claiming job seekers allowance fell by 15,200.