The number of people in work in Britain has reached an all-time high of almost 30 million, but nearly half are working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs, new figures have shown.
The employment total is the highest since records began in 1971 after a huge increase of 177,000 between the three months to June and the quarter to September.
At the same time, unemployment fell by 48,000 to 2.47 million, the lowest since the spring of 2011, while the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance was cut for the 12th month in a row in October, down by 41,700 to 1.31 million, the lowest for almost five years.
The number of people classed as economically inactive, including those looking after a sick relative, or people who have given up looking for work, also fell - down by 69,000 to 8.92 million.
But other data from the 0ffice for National Statistics showed that 1.46 million people were working part-time because they could not find a full-time job, an increase of 24,000 over the quarter, and the highest figure since records began in 1992.
Almost a third of working men are in part-time employment because they cannot find a full-time job, compared to 13% of women.
The number of men and women working full-time increased, but there was a 22,000 fall in women in part-time jobs.
Around 890,000 people have been out of work for over a year, down by 19,000, with just under half of those unemployed for more than two years, a fall of 15,000.
There were 950,000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in the latest period, around a third of whom were in full-time education, a fall of 9,000, giving a youth jobless rate of 21%.
Average earnings increased by 0.7% in the year to September, down by 0.1% from the previous month.
Excluding bonuses, pay rose by 0.8%, the joint lowest since records began in 2001.
The UK’s unemployment rate of 7.6% is lower than the European Union’s average of 11%, with the highest rates in Greece (27.6%) and Spain (26.6%).
The lowest rates are in Austria (4.9%) and Germany (5.2%).