Unemployment in Great Britain fell in the three months from December 2010 to February 2011, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

From the previous quarter unemployment fell by 17,000 to 2.5 million. The unemployment rate dipped by one percentage point to 7.8 per cent.

The number of people in employment increased by 143,000 to 29.2 million, taking the employment rate up by 0.2 percentage points to 70.7 per cent.

However the claimant count also rose in the period by 700 to 1.45 million.

Youth unemployment increased from 951,000 in the previous quarter to 963,000, which while still considerable, is not the record high predicted by some. The figures take the youth unemployment rate up from 20.3 per cent to 20.4 per cent.

Howard Archer, Chief Economist at HIS Global Insight, said, "Despite the overall firmer tone of the latest labour market data, we retain the view that unemployment is headed up over the coming months. We suspect that likely below-trend growth will mean that the private sector will be unable to fully compensate for the increasing job losses in the public sector that will result from the fiscal squeeze that is now really kicking in. Indeed, we believe that private sector companies will become increasingly careful in their employment plans in the face of a struggling economy and elevated input costs. Specifically, we forecast unemployment on the ILO measure to rise to 2.67 million by end-2011 and to peak around 2.75 million around mid-2012. This would see the unemployment rate rise to 8.4% by end-2011 and to a peak of 8.6% by mid-2012."