UK unemployment fell in March despite the UK having re-entered recession (Reuters)
UK unemployment has fallen to a rate of 8.2 percent in March, defying expectations of a rise after news that the UK was in a double-dip recession.
The number of unemployed fell 45,000 in the first quarter, to 2.63m out-of-work. In February the unemployment rate was at 8.3 percent.
"I wouldn't for a moment pretend we're over the challenges we face, but this shows the labour market is going in the right direction," Chris Grayling, the government's employment minister, told BBC News.
Others also welcomed the news.
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"This morning's unemployment data represents some rare good news from the UK's struggling labour market. Positives out of the UK economy have been few and far between of late, so this upturn in UK employment should be celebrated," Richard Driver, analyst for Caxton FX, said.
The number of people in employment rose by 105,000 in the quarter, but this was solely driven by part-time workers, whose numbers swelled by 118,000.
People in full-time employment actually fell by 13,000 in the first quarter.
Unemployment seems to be stabilising in Britain, with modest increases and decreases over the past few months.
Britain is in another recession, according to the latest economic data from the ONS, as woeful output from the construction industry squeezed the economy to a -0.2 percent contraction in the first quarter.
This follows on from a -0.3 percent contraction in the final quarter of 2011.
European Commission forecasts for the UK economy have been slashed to just 0.5 percent growth for the whole year.
As the coalition government stays true to its austerity programme, monetary stimulus from the Bank of England was seen as one of the only potential ways to grow the economy and help create jobs.
In May its quantitative easing programme, called the asset purchase facility, was wrapped up with a final value of £325bn.
The Bank had been buying up high quality assets, such as gilts, to improve liquidity in the markets in the hope that businesses would use the cash injection to invest in expansion.
Britain's GDP figures suggest this strategy has failed.
A recent report from Ernst & Young accused businesses of holding on to the cash gifted to them by the UK's central bank, rather than spending it on job creation and growth.
Businesses told E&Y that limited demand, volatility and unrealistic vendor expectations are holding back their spending.
"Consequently, the economy is bleeding cash into company coffers at an alarming rate," E&Y's report said.
"This haemorrhage is sapping the strength of the economy, keeping it on the critical list. Although the forecast sees business investment growing by 6 percent next year and a further 10 percent in 2014, this will not be sufficient to get the economy moving rapidly.
"The corporate sector is accumulating cash at an astonishing and accelerating pace and acting as a major drag on the rest of the economy, keeping it close to stall speed."
Because of this lack of business spending, E&Y forecasts "dismal" 0.4 percent growth for the UK economy in 2012.
UK inflation rose unexpectedly in March to 3.5 percent, despite Bank of England predictions that it would fall sharply to the government's 2 percent target by the end of the year.
This rise complicated the Bank's quantitative easing programme because of the risk that printing money will push the cost-of-living higher, when it had previously thought there was room to move.
Sticky inflation may also be keeping a lid on job creation as firms contend with fairly high base costs.
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