Official figures show that the number of people claiming jobless benefit in the UK fell by slightly more than expected last month. The number of people in employment rose by its most in almost four years, helped by a record rise in part-time work.
The Office for National Statistics said the number of people claiming jobless benefit fell by 20,800 in June, its fifth consecutive monthly fall and a slightly bigger fall than the 20,000 analysts had forecast. That pushed the claimant count rate down to 4.5%, the lowest since March 2009.
The number of people without a job on the wider ILO measure fell by 34,000 to 2.468 million in the three months to May. That took the jobless rate to 7.8%, the lowest since January.
The figures suggest Britain's labour market may be slowly recovering, although there are risks ahead from government spending cuts which could lead to thousands of lay-offs in the public sector.
The number of people in work rose by 160,000 in the three months to May, the biggest rise since August 2006. But the increase was due to a record 148,000 rise in the number of part-time workers, while full-time workers increased by just 12,000.
The ONS said the percentage of workers in part-time jobs was 27%, its highest since records began in 1992.Average weekly earnings growth eased more than expected to an annual rate of 2.7% in the three months to May from 4.1% in the three months to April. Excluding bonuses, earnings growth slowed unexpectedly to 1.8% from 1.9%.