The number of people in employment has not been higher since records began in 1971, while the total level of unemployment is the lowest since spring 2011.
“Despite the tough economic times, the private sector continues to create jobs and our welfare reforms are encouraging people to return to work – with 170,000 fewer people on the main out-of-work benefits than in May 2010.”
There were more job opportunities available, with the number of unfilled vacancies at 476,000, up 3,000 on the quarter and 17,000 from the same period last year.
The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the three months to August was 71.3%, which is the highest since April 2009.
The number of unemployed 16-24-year-olds fell by 62,000.
Neil Owen, global practice director at recruiter Robert Half International, says: “While the long-term state of the economy is still unclear, today’s labour market figures are positive and may signal the UK jobs market is finally turning a corner.
“We’ve seen 212,000 more people employed from June to August 2012 over the three preceding months, and a national unemployment rate falling 0.2% to 7.9%. While employment is growing faster than GDP, businesses tasked with growth are taking this opportunity to invest in highly skilled professionals to support new initiatives aimed at delivering return in the medium and long term.”
Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) says: “More people in work than ever before and the lowest unemployment in over a year is another significant step on the road to recovery. The truly amazing thing is that during the past year of a technical recession, and in spite of austerity and public sector cuts, the UK has created half a million jobs.
“The job numbers are being driven by flexible working – the number of full time posts has grown but the increase in temps and part-time workers has been even greater. Too many people talk down the value of part-time work, but it’s here in black and white – over 80% of part-time employees chose to work that way. “The jobs numbers show that the first round of public sector job losses, in reality, have been absorbed by the private sector – which wasn’t a forgone conclusion and is a reassuring sign of the strength of the labour market.
Tom Lovell, group managing director of specialist recruitment consultancy Reed, adds: “The latest Reed Job Index, which tracks the numbers of job opportunities in the UK, also shows good news for the country’s jobs. As well as the index showing positive growth of 1 point each quarter during 2012, September 2012’s findings showed that job opportunities were up by 11% compared with the same month last year.”
Yakub Zolynski, founder of graduate recruiter, Market Mavens, says: “The continued fall in unemployment is a result of companies increasingly taking on contract and part-time work, but it’s a positive [sign] nevertheless… Things have got far more positive in recent months and we expect the jobs market to continue to improve.”
Adds Zolynski: “Employers remain risk-averse but there is no doubt that they are starting to focus on growth.”