Record number of women at work in the UKWednesday 19 February 2014 16.30
UK unemployment levels continue to fall and a record number of women are now in work, new figures reveal.
The jobless total in the UK was 2.34 million in the final quarter of last year, down by 125,000, giving a rate of 7.2%.
The number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance dipped to 1.22 million in January, down by 27,000 - the 15th consecutive monthly fall.
More women are in work than at any time since records began in 1971, at just over 14 million, data from the Office for National Statistics has shown.
But 1.4 million people are in part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time work, a fall of 29,000 over the latest quarter but 46,000 higher than a year ago.
Youth and long-term unemployment have both fallen, but there has been little change in the number of people classed as economically inactive, which has remained just under nine million.
The total includes people on long-term sick leave, students, those looking after a sick relative or those who have given up looking for a job.
UK employment now stands at more than 30 million, a rate of 72.1%, which is 0.6% higher than a year ago.
The unemployment rate will remain a key focus, but is no longer linked to the Bank of England's pledge to keep interest rates at record lows after governor Mark Carney unveiled a new forward guidance policy last week.
The bank had pledged not to consider a rate rise until unemployment fell to 7%, but with that target set to be reached much earlier than expected, the guidance has been replaced.
Figures today showed that average earnings increased by 1.1% in the year to December, 0.2 percentage points up on the previous month, giving average weekly earnings of £478.
The number of people out of work for longer than a year has fallen by 45,000 to 845,000, while 451,000 have been unemployed for over two years, down by 7,000.
There were 917,000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in the latest quarter, down by 48,000 on the previous three months.
Job vacancies were up by 28,000 to 580,000, the highest since 2008.