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Treasury: 'Unemployment falling at fastest rate in a decade'

Following the news that the unemployment rate was 6.9%, down from 7.1%, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said:

These figures are some of the strongest evidence yet that we are embedding the recovery. We have record numbers in work and unemployment falling at the fastest rate in over a decade.

– Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander

With earnings now rising in line with prices and employment rising, these figures reinforce the fact that the only way to higher living standards is to take the difficult decisions needed to deliver our long-term economic plan.

– Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander

Read more: Wages rises beat inflation for first time in six years

Unemployment rate down to 7.2%

Unemployment fell to 7.2% between November and January - down from 7.4% in the previous three months.

The number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance last month fell by 34,600 to 1.17 million, said the Office for National Statistics.

Average earnings increased by 1.4% in the year to January, 0.2% up on the previous month.

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LGA report: 730,000 more young people out of work

Youth unemployment appears to be falling, but there are over 730,000 more young people out of work or underemployed than in 2005, said the Local Government Association report - published ahead of the latest unemployment figures tomorrow.

It is simply unacceptable that we expect a third of young people to be underemployed in 2018 and it would be a travesty if young people were being left behind when the rest of the economy is growing and benefiting from this.

We need to listen to the young people that are telling us that they want more work and not let them fly under the radar because of employment statistics that make us think the situation is improving.

...councils know the reality of what is happening on the ground and our relationships with local people and businesses could be used much more than it is at the moment.

– Peter Box, chairman of the LGA's Economy and Transport Board

The LGA complained of "complicated" national funding rules in England, which it said left young people leaving school or training with skills that did not match local jobs.

Local authorities said the Youth Contract was underperforming and should be devolved to councils, while the government's flagship Work Programme should be commissioned locally.Around two billion hours of young people's time is being unused, it was claimed.

Half of young unemployed 'hidden' council chiefs say

As many as half of the young people in England and Wales are out of work or under-employed, with the true scale of the problem being "hidden", council leaders have claimed.

Half of young unemployed are 'hidden' council chiefs say. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Local Government Association warned that a third of all young people will be jobless of "trapped" in under-employment by 2018 unless local areas are given more control over skills and training.

More than two million people aged 16 to 24 in England and Wales could be looking for work, or be under-employed in the coming years, the group warned.

The LGA said government figures centred on unemployment, not young people working part-time or are over-qualified for their job.

Read: Half of young unemployed are 'hidden' council chiefs say

Labour target 'jobs guarantee' at under-25s

Rachel Reeves
A life time of unemployment was more likely if young people spent long periods out of work, Rachel Reeves said. Credit: Daybreak/ITV

The Labour jobs guarantee will focus on youth unemployment, the Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions told Daybreak.

Rachel Reeves said the jobs guarantee will force under-25s who have been out of a year into a minimum wage job, but will only do the same for over 25s after two years on jobseekers allowance.

"We know that there are particular problems with youth unemployment. 20% of young people are out of work - much higher than for the population as a whole.

"And for young people what we hear time and again from them and from businesses, is that there is quite a risk - they haven't worked before.

"But that is not quite the same for older people, which is why we are targeting this scheme at younger people."

Read: Govt: Labour has 'no economic plan'

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Govt: Labour has 'no economic plan'

Labour have "no economic plan" and would put the economy at risk with their jobs guarantee, a treasury minister has said.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid explained:

Labour's sums don't add up. They are proposing yet more unfunded spending, meaning more borrowing and more taxes to pay for it.

And Labour's bank tax is a short-term political gimmick that they want to spend ten times over.

It's the same old Labour. Ed Miliband has no economic plan. Labour would put the recovery at risk, put jobs at risk and hardworking people would pay the price with a less secure future.

– Treasury minister Sajid Javid

Read: How Labour's flagship jobs pledge would work

How Labour's flagship jobs pledge would work

  • Under-25s living off Jobseeker's Allowance for over a year, would have to chose between a taxpayer-subsidised job for six months or lose their benefits.
  • Employment will be provided by firms and voluntary sector groups for 25 hours' every week, for six months and the national minimum wage.
  • The Government will pay the wages and employers' National Insurance.
  • Another £500 per employee would be supplied towards training - which would be compulsory for participants - and administration costs.
  • Labour said only firms that could show they were not using the scheme to replace existing workers or reduce their hours would qualify for funding.

Read: Labour extend jobs guarantee to five years

Labour extend jobs guarantee to five years

Labour's promise to introduce measures to get the long-term unemployed and under-25s into work would last throughout the next Parliament, the party said.

Read: Unemployment falls by 125,000 to 2.34 million but rate rises

Unemployment
The scheme would target those out of work for more than a year, Labour said. Credit: PA

Ed Miliband's party will promise to fund the package via a tax on bankers' bonuses and high-earners' pensions in its 2015 manifesto.

Last month the party confirmed reports that funding - also including the proceeds of restricting pension tax relief for high earners - was only in place for 2015/16.

Now it says the scheme - estimated on present claimant levels to cost £1.9 billion in its first year and £900 million a year thereafter - is affordable right through to 2020.

Under the scheme, under-25s on Jobseeker's Allowance for more than a year - two years for others - would have to take a taxpayer-subsidised job for six months or risk losing benefits.

Read: Two in five graduates jobless six months after degree

Read: Stereotyping of teenagers 'hitting job prospects'

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