1. ITV Report

Unemployment figures fall in the North West

Unemployment in the North West fell by 18,000 in the three months to March Photo:

Unemployment in the North West fell by 18,000 in the three months to March, official figures have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that a total of 277,000 people were unemployed in the region between February and April.

The region's unemployment rate was 8.0% and saw a fall of 6.1% during the period. The worst area in the UK was the South West which recorded a 17,000 increase in the number of people without a job.

Unemployment has increased by 15,000 to 2.52 million, while total pay growth has fallen to its lowest level in four years.

It is the third quarterly increase in a row in the jobless total.

The number of people in work fell by 43,000 in the latest quarter to March, to 29.7 million, the biggest fall since autumn 2011.

The latest data from the ONS revealed that annual wage growth for the three-month period was 0.4%, a fall of 0.4% on the previous quarter, and lagging well behind inflation.

The figure for March alone showed a fall in pay of 0.4%, the first negative since March 2009.Meanwhile, average earnings excluding bonuses rose by 0.8%, the lowest rise since records began in 2001.

The figures also revealed that 902,000 people had been out of work for more than a year, a 23,000 increase on the three months to December.

The number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds fell by 17,000 to 958,000.

The number of people classed as economically inactive, including students, people on long-term sick leave and those who have given up looking for work, rose by 47,000 to nine million.

Despite the increase in unemployment, the total is 92,000 lower than a year ago.