UK unemployment rate slips to 6.8%

Increase in self-employment dragged the UK's unemployment rate to its lowest level in more than past five years in the first quarter of this year, according to figures revealed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Fresh data showed that number of unemployed people in the country slipped by 133,000 to 2.2 million in the three-month period ended March 31, 2014. It was the lowest level of unemployment in the country since January 2009.

Rate of unemployment was recorded at 6.8 per cent in the quarter under review, down from 6.9 per cent in previous three month-month period.

The number of self-employed people reached a record high of 4.5 million, while the total number employed people reached more than 30.4 million in the quarter under review. The number of Jobseeker's allowance claimants slipped by 25,100 to settle at 1.12 million in April. It was the 18th monthly decline in the number of jobseeker's allowance claimants in a row.

Commenting on the figures, Employment Minister Esther McVey said, "As the recovery takes hold, more people are able to get a job or set up their own business and become the employers of tomorrow."

He added that every person who started a business of his/her own or hired someone was helping to make the country a more prosperous.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said that the figures demonstrated the flexibility and resilience in the British jobs market.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England has increased its growth forecast for 2015, saying the economy would grow at a rate of 2.9 per cent next year, up from previously estimated rate of 2.7 per cent.

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