§ 24. Mr. Jenkins
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make a statement on recent trends in the labour market. 
§ Mr. Nicholas Brown
There are problems in the world economy, but the UK is withstanding these better than other major countries.
Employment is at a record level of 28.42 million, growing by 172,000 over the last year and by more than 1.5 million since 1997.
Claimant unemployment is under 953,000, its lowest level since 1975, down by more than 24,000 over the last year and by more than half a million since 1997. For the first time in half a century we have the lowest International Labour Organisation (ILO) unemployment rate of any of the major industrialised countries.
Building on the foundation of a strong and stable economy, the Department's policies have played an important part in this success. For example, the New Deals have helped well over 600,000 people off benefits 35W and into work, and Action Teams for Jobs and Employment Zones have, between them, helped over 52,000 people from the country's most deprived areas into jobs.