January 22 2014.

- In the three months to November 2013, the unemployment rate fell to 7.1%, the lowest level since April 2009

- In the three months to November 2013, unemployment fell 167,000, while employment rose 280,000

- In September 2013, private sector employment rose 246,000, compared with June, while public sector employment rose by only 4,000

- In the three months to November, youth unemployment fell 39,000, but was still at a rate of 20%

- In December 2013, the claimant count fell 24,000 compared with November 2013

Commenting on the labour market figures for January 2014, published today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: “The latest job figures show that the recovery is still moving in the right direction, and suggest that growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 was strong. Unemployment is down, employment is up, inactivity is down, and youth unemployment also fell - even if the jobless rate for this age group remains too high.

“With the unemployment rate now very close to the MPC’s 7% threshold, the clamour for an early interest rate increase will get louder. We still believe that there is no sound case for such a move. Mark Carney has been clear that the 7% target is only an indicator, and it would be foolish to choke off the recovery at this stage. It is therefore reassuring that the latest MPC minutes suggest that the committee sees no immediate need to increase rates. With inflation down to 2% and earnings growth at only 0.9% there are no strong domestic inflationary pressures in the economy. Businesses require stability in order to continue to drive the recovery, and the government now needs to place more emphasis on improving access to finance so that firms have the ability to grow.”