The Office of National Statistics (ONS) yesterday published the latest Labour Market Statistics. Both Labour and Conservative had something to point at in the report as a vindication of their stance.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit has fallen by the largest amount since Labour came to power.

The numbers had gone down by 32,300 to 1.59 million. The numbers out of work including those that don't claim benefit (the Labour Force Survey (LFS)) was also down by 33,000 to 2.45 million. This puts the unemployment rate to 7.8%, which is a drop of 0.1% over the quarter.

But, paradoxically, the number of people actually in work also fell by 54,000 to 38.86 million. This is the lowest number since 1996.

The number of those who have been unemployed for over a year has also risen by 61,000 to 687,000. This is the highest since 1997.

The real stinging figure is that a record 8.16 million people are now 'economically inactive'. Of these the ONS have said that out of these 2.3 million have said they would like a job.

Another 98,000 people turned to education to keep them off the dole queue. A further 1.04 million are reluctantly on reduced hours as they can't find a suitable full time job.

Whilst Yvette Cooper, the Work and Pensions Secretary, was cautiously optimistic about the drop in claimants her shadow, Theresa May said 'What the headline figures don't show is that many people have simply given up looking for work. One in five people of working age you meet won't have a job. 'Britain needs a credible plan on jobs and growth so that the 2.3 million people looking for jobs who don't appear in the official unemployment figures can get back into the workplace.'

None of this mentions that many self-employed people may have been forced to shut up shop and those whose short term contracts have not been renewed. There are also possibly people being forced into low paid self-employment or early retirement on a very meagre pension taken early just to survive.

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