Five questions answered on… the fall in UK unemployment

Unemployment is at its lowest number for over a year. We answer five questions on the falling unemployment rates.

How much has unemployment fallen by?

Unemployment has fallen by 49,000 to 2.51 million in the three months to September. This has reduced the jobless rate from 7.9 per cent to 7.8 per cent.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) said almost all of this fall was due to a decline in youth unemployment.

How has this affected the long term unemployed?

It hasn’t actually. Those who are long term unemployed – for a year or over – has increased by 12,000 for the quarter to September 894,000.

While 43,000 people have been out of work for more than two years, up by 21,000.

How many people are currently working part-time only?

According to the ONS there are 8.1 million people in part-time employment, up by 49,000 and nearly a record high.

If unemployment figures have dropped, has the amount of people claiming unemployment benefits also fallen?

Oddly, no. The number of people claiming unemployment benefits has risen by 10,100 last month to 1.58m, which is the highest level since July and the biggest monthly rise since September last year.

In regards to this, Martin Beck at Capital Economics, told The Telegraph:

Indeed, the timelier claimant count measure of unemployment rose by 10,000 in September, while August's fall was revised to a small rise, which suggests that the labour market may be beginning to weaken as the Olympics effect fades.

What has the employment minister said about these latest figures?

Mark Hoban, the Employment Minister, told the BBC:

This is another good set of figures. We've seen the number of people in work increase by 100,000 and youth unemployment is below a million again.


There are still some real challenges out there. We still need to tackle... long-term unemployment.

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.