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Entrepreneurs Panel

Richard O'Sullivan
Debbie Pierce
Steve Purdham
Michael Oliver
Julie Meyer
Charlie Mullins
Laura Tenison
Jennie Johnson
Jeremy Roberts
David Pollock
Tony Caldeira
Brian Hay

Unemployment drops 28,000 to 1.68m

Unemployment fell by 28,000 between November and January to 1.68m.

The Office for National Statistics said there were 31.4m people in work during the quarter, 116,000 more than August to October and nearly half a million (478,0000) higher year-on-year.

There were 22.94m people working full-time, up by 302,000 on a year earlier. Another 8.48m people were working part-time, up by 177,000.

Average weekly earnings increased by 2.1 per cent including bonuses and by 2.2 per cent excluding bonuses compared with a year earlier.

Commenting on the figures, Mike Cherry, director of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Unemployment is historically low, but we are seeing a slowdown in recruitment and the persistence of weak wage growth. This should be taken as a warning sign that businesses are starting to become concerned about a number of emerging economic headwinds.

"Small businesses are dealing with a growing number of new or unexpected costs, including higher than expected minimum wage increases, auto-enrolment deadlines and changes to how dividends are taxed. To meet these challenges, employers are looking for ways to keep costs down and this is translating into slower than expected wage growth.

"Our members will be watching closely as the Chancellor delivers his Budget later today, listening out to see if he recognises the challenges they are facing. To boost productivity and raise wages, smaller firms need real progress on business rates, a firm commitment to simplification of the tax system and crucial investment in roads and broadband."

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