Big rise in the number of people at work in the UKWednesday 20 February 2013 10.50
The number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance in the UK has fallen to a near two year low after a huge increase in employment.
Almost 30 million people were in work in Britain at the end of 2012, an increase of 154,000 on the quarter to September.
It is also the highest total since records began in 1971.
The claimant count fell for the third month in a row in January, down by 12,500 to 1.54 million, the lowest since June 2011.
Unemployment, including those not eligible for benefit, fell by 14,000 in the final quarter of last year to 2.5 million - 156,000 lower than a year ago.
But youth unemployment in the UK increased by 11,000, the highest rise for a year, and the number of people with more than one job increased by 41,000 to 1.1 million.
The number of people classed as economically inactive, including long-term sick, people looking after a family or those who have given up looking for work, fell below nine million, the lowest figure since the autumn of 2006.
The Office for National Statistics also reported a continued cut in the real value of pay, with average earnings increasing by 1.4% in the year to December, down by 0.1% on the previous month.
Regular pay, excluding bonuses, rose by 1.3%, the lowest figure since the end of 2009.
The ONS noted that inflation was running at 2.7% last year, with the annual growth in weekly wages staying below inflation since the middle of 2008.
Today's figures show that the number of people in full-time jobs increased by almost 200,000 at the end of last year to 21.6 million, while part-timers fell by 43,000 to just over eight million. The number of self-employed workers increased by 25,000 to 4.2 million.
Youth unemployment, counting 16 to 24-year-olds, rose by 11,000 to 974,000, the biggest increase since the start of last year.