Commenting on the labour market figures released today by the ONS, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“These figures are much better than expected. Employment is up, unemployment is down, and there has been a fall in the level of inactivity.


“However, there is no room for complacency. Despite these positive figures, the number of people unemployed for more than twelve months rose over the quarter, and there was a worrying increase in the number of people classified as ‘long-term sick’. Trends over the past year have been negative and the impact of the tough measures in the Budget will only be seen next year.


“Although we do not share the pessimism expressed in some quarters, on the basis of these figures, we reiterate the BCC’s forecast that unemployment will peak at around 2.65 million in the second half of 2011.


“The government must do everything in its power to encourage job creation in the private sector. Reducing the significant regulatory burden would encourage small and medium-sized businesses to create more jobs.”