Job creation in Britain is slowing rapidly and is down to its worst rate in 13 years, according to new figures that undermine the continued fall in the headline unemployment figure.
The Office for National Statistics said unemployment fell by 15,000 in the three months to April, while the claimant count fell for the tenth time in 11 months.
However, the shine was taken off the numbers as the ONS also said job growth in the UK was just 0.3pc between February and April, the lowest rate of growth since 1994. Economists warned that the recent drops in the overall jobless numbers could mask genuine weakness developing in the labour market.
It coincided with figures showing the job cull in the public sector has accelerated to new peaks. The number of people working for the state dropped by 10,000 in the first quarter, in the latest sign of the serious cutbacks carried out under Gordon Brown. However, at 5.8m, the public sector remains around 750,000 bigger than when Labour won power in 1997.