A record number of people are in work after the biggest quarterly fall in unemployment for over a decade.
The jobless total fell by 82,000 in the three months to October to 2.51 million, down by 128,000 on a year ago. The Office for National Statistics said it was the biggest quarterly fall since the Spring of 2001. Employment jumped by 40,000 to 29.6 million, the highest figure since records began in 1971 and up by half a million on a year ago.
The shift in employment patterns was revealed in new data showing a slump in public sector employment and an increase in the numbers employed in private firms.
Public sector employment fell for the 12th consecutive quarter, by 24,000 to 5.7 million, the lowest since 2002. Employment in the civil service was cut by 3,000 to 455,000, the lowest since records began in 1999, while local government employment also fell to a record low of 2.5 million after a cut of 32,000. Private sector employment rose by 65,000 in the latest quarter to 23.8 million, the highest on record.
The number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance fell by 3,000 in November to 1.58 million, following two monthly increases. But those classed as economically inactive, including those looking after a family, on long-term sick leave or who have given up trying to find a job, increased by 60,000 to 9.07 million.
A total of 449,000 people have been out of work for more than two years, up by 6,000, while 904,000 have been jobless for more than a year, unchanged from the previous quarter. The number of unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds fell by 72,000 to 945,000. Average earnings increased by 1.8% in the year to September, unchanged on the previous month.
Employment minister Mark Hoban said: "Once again, these figures show that the private sector is creating far more jobs than are being lost in the public sector. It's a credit to British businesses that they're proving wrong those cynics who claimed the private sector wouldn't be able to step up.
"But we're not complacent and know there are still lots of challenges ahead, which is why the Government will continue working hard to help those people who want to get on in life and allow the UK to compete in the global race."
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "Millions of families face another miserable Christmas, the sixth since the recession started, with little hope of things getting better. Instead of the recovery the Government inherited in 2010, the economy faces a triple dip recession due to the failed and futile attempt to deflate their way to growth."
Vicky Redwood, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, said: "The latest UK labour market figures contain further signs that jobs growth is slowing. Although the Labour Force Survey measure of employment rose by 40,000 in the three months to October, this was the smallest increase since the start of the year."