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Another positive set of unemployment data has underlined the strength of the jobs market

The number of people out of work in the UK fell by 125,000 to 2.34 million in the three months to December, according to the latest estimates.

The rate of unemployment now stands at 7.2%.

The Office for National Statistics also said more women were in work than at any time since records began, at just over 14 million. Youth unemployment has fallen to the lowest level since the spring of 2011, just over 900,000 and long-term unemployment has come down as well.

Meanwhile, average earnings increased by 1.1% in the year to December, a 0.2% increase on the previous month.

Latest estimates show that 193,000 more people were in work between October and December, compared to the previous three months.

That means overall employment now stands at more than 30 million, a rate of 72.1%, which is an increase of 0.6% on a year ago.

Rate fall “slowing”

The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance fell by 27,600 in January to 1.22 million, its 15th consecutive monthly drop.

According to the ONS, the rate of unemployment in the three months to December fell by 0.4% on the previous quarter, bringing it to 7.2%.

However, Nick Palmer, the ONS’s senior labour market statistician, said: “The main conclusion that should be drawn from these latest figures is that the rate at which unemployment has been falling is likely to have slowed down.”

The number of people in part-time jobs now stands at 1.4 million, a fall of 29,000 over the latest quarter, but 46,000 higher than a year ago.