UK job market starts seeing brighter days
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The number of Britons claiming unemployment benefits dropped 15,200 in December. The fall was the biggest for two-and-a-half years. The figure raised hopes the unemployment levels have peaked.
AFP - British jobless claims fell again in December at the fastest pace for two and a half years, data showed Wednesday, fuelling hopes that the economy emerged from recession in the fourth quarter of 2009.
The number of people claiming benefits dropped 15,200 last month to 1.61 million, which was the sharpest monthly drop since April 2007, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.
The figure for November was revised to show a fall of 10,800 people, which was a larger drop than the 6,300 reported last month.
"The latest set of labour market data were surprisingly strong," said Credit Suisse economist Neville Hill.
"The claimant count measure of unemployment fell for the second consecutive month in December, down 15,200 after a 10,800 fall in November.
"This is a compelling sign that the labour market has turned and the economy has pulled out of recession."
The ONS also revealed on Wednesday that the number of people unemployed fell 7,000 to 2.46 million people, while the jobless rate was unchanged at 7.8 percent.
Britain remains the last major world power mired in recession after the eurozone, France, Germany, Japan and the United States all emerged from a deep downturn that was sparked by the global financial crisis.
But economists expect that data due next week will show that the British economy escaped from recession in the three months to December.
"Today's labour market statistics point towards strong economic growth in the final quarter of 2009," said economists Benjamin Williamson at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, an independent consultancy.
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