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The UK’s unemployment rate has fallen to a 10-year low of 4.8% following another drop in the numbers out of work.

The jobless total stands at 1.62 million after a reduction of 16,000 in the quarter to October.

The UK now has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, with only Germany and the Czech Republic having a lower figure.

There was a slight fall of 6,000 in the number of people in work, to 31.7 million, although the figure for women reached a record high of almost 15 million. The employment rate for women is now almost 70%, the best since records began in 1971.

There was an increase of 2,000 in the claimant count last month, to 809,000 – the highest figure since February 2015.

The Office for National Statistics also reported a rise of 76,000 in the number of people classed as economically inactive. The total, which includes those on long-term sick leave, taking early retirement, looking after a relative or who have given up looking for work, is 8.9 million.

Average earnings increased by 2.5% in the year to October, up by 0.1% on the previous month.

Public sector employment has increased by 12,000 to 5.4 million, mainly due to new jobs in the NHS and education. The figure is 10,000 lower than a year ago, while local government employment has reached a record low of 2.1 million.

The number of workers in private firms has fallen by 17,000 to 26 million, but is still 352,000 higher than a year ago.

Other figures showed a 107,000 increase in part-time workers to a near record high of 8.56 million.

There has been a 10% fall in the numbers in part-time jobs wanting full-time work over the past year, to a total of 1.16 million. Pay growth is said to be particularly strong in the construction industry.

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