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"Any fall in unemployment is welcome," says employment minister Chris Grayling, "but of course it remains much too high."
"I never place to much thought on a single month's figures but it is a step in the right direction."
A Downing Street spokeswoman said:
Asked whether the Prime Minister was concerned that women do not appear to be doing as well as men in finding jobs, the spokeswoman added:
Responding to the newly released official employment figures, Graeme Leach, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors, said:
“In tough times the private sector is leading the economic recovery, despite high taxes and costly regulation.
"Private sector employment is up 45,000 whilst public sector employment is down 37,000 in the latest quarter.
"Surprisingly, given the Spending Review, public sector pay continues to exceed that in the private sector.
"The Bank of England will also be reassured about inflation prospects with total pay in both the public and private sectors rising by just over 1 per cent.
"The downside of course is that inflation means real pay is falling by more than 2 per cent, which is not good news for High Street spending.”
Stephen Oversby, of children's charity Barnardo's, said:
"This is no time for complacency. Despite youth unemployment statistics having fallen, there remains more than a million 16-to-24-year-olds looking for but not finding work.
"In fact, now more than ever we need fast action by the Government, employers and the voluntary sector to prevent the trend from rising again and even more young people from becoming an unemployment statistic."
The Government said that in the past month 160,000 incentives of £2,275 had become available to employers who take on young people in the Work Programme as part of the £1 billion Youth Contract.
Unemployment in the regions between December to February was:
- North East: 114,000 (-9,000) 11.2%
- North West: 325,000 (+18,000) 9.6%
- Yorkshire / Humber: 248,000 (-21,000) 9.3%
- East Midlands: 189,000 (-1,000) 8.2%
- West Midlands: 239,000 (-3,000) 9%
- East: 203,000 (-17,000) 6.6%
- London: 431,000 (+7,000) 10.1%
- South East: 282,000 (-2,000) 6.3%
- South West: 179,000 (+4,000) 6.7%
- Wales: 131,000 (+1,000) 8.9%
- Scotland: 219,000 (-12,000) 8.1%
- N Ireland: 58,000 (no change) 6.8%
Each region above has an unemployment figure, a figure for its change on last quarter and an italicised unemployment rate.
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In the context of a weak economy today's figures are unexpected good news. But it pays dividends to look at the numbers in detail.