THE UK unemployment rate fell to 7.4%, from 7.6% for the three months to September, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday.
The number of people out of work fell by 99,000 to 2.39 million in the three months to October, the ONS said.
But the trade unions said the fall was largely due to workers being forced into part-time work, while they want and need full-time employment.
Unison General Secretary, Dave Prentis, said: ‘Today’s figures mask the reality of widespread underemployment, with too many people in low-paid, part-time work or on zero-hours contracts with no guaranteed income from week to week.
‘Presiding over figures that show almost 1.5m workers have been condemned to part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time work, the highest number since records began, is nothing for the government to be proud of.
‘While the small increase in the number of workers joining the NHS is welcome, the health service is still drastically under-staffed.’
Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey cautioned that the government was in ‘danger of creating a part-time, low-wage economy’, as the number of people working part-time because they couldn’t find full-time work hit 1.47 million – the highest since records began.
McCluskey said: ‘Behind the headlines are hardworking people struggling to find a decent week’s work and make ends meet as the world of work becomes more insecure and inflation continues to outstrip wages.
‘Unemployment may be falling, but Cameron and Osborne’s cost of living crisis is deepening and forcing working people to food banks this Christmas.’
Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said: ‘These figures show that there are 2.4 million people seeking decent paid work upon which they can build a life.
‘It is the responsibility of all political leaders to give a vision of hope for 2014. That means better quality jobs and full employment for 2014.’
The new governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has stated that interest rates will be increased when the official unemployment rate comes down to 7%.