Unemployment rate falls in the North West

In the North West unemployment fell 2.5% between May and July Photo: PA Images

Unemployment in the North West fell by 8,000 in the three months to July, official figures have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said a total of 316,000 people were unemployed in the region between May and July.

The region's unemployment rate was 9% and saw a fall of 2.5% during the period.

Nationally, the Olympics is thought to have helped drive a further fall in unemployment after another leap in the number of people in work. The jobless total fell by 7,000 in the quarter to July to 2.59 million, an unemployment rate of 8.1%.

The ONS said the number claiming jobseekers allowance last month was 1.57 million, down by 15,000 on July - the largest monthly fall since June 2010. London accounted for 5,500 of the fall in the so-called claimant count, suggesting a jobs boost from the London Games.

The number of people in work increased by 236,000 to 29.6 million, which is the largest quarterly rise for two years. The ONS said the Games was likely to have been a driving factor behind the jump in employment, with London accounting for 91,000 of the rise.

While the fall in the headline rate of unemployment was lower than many economists were expecting, the drop in the claimant count was far higher than forecast.

The figures also showed the number of people out of work for over a year was the highest for more than 16 years - at 904,000, up 22,000 on the previous quarter.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "For families suffering the misery of unemployment, any decrease will be welcome news, but it is clear when you look at the bigger economic picture that any talk of growth is premature.

"In areas such as Yorkshire and Humberside, and the West Midlands - where unemployment is already among the highest in the UK - unemployment continues to go up, meaning yet more misery for families struggling to get by."