UNEMPLOYMENT moved closer to a six-year low in the three months to the end of June, but the North-East has the highest jobless rate at 9.4 per cent.

The Office for National Statistics said the unemployment rate fell to 6.4 per cent in the quarter, the lowest since late 2008 and down from 6.5 per cent in May.

The number of people unemployed fell by 132,000 to 2.08 million.

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The ONS said number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell for the 21st month in a row in June, by 33,600 to 1.01 million.

If the claimant count falls again in September it will fall below one million for the first time since September 2008.

The number of young people out of work also fell in the three months to June by 102,000 to 767,000, more than 200,000 lower than a year ago, the biggest fall since records began in 1992.

But average wages excluding bonuses rose by 0.6 per cent in the year to June, the slowest rise since records began in 2001.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady feared that many of the jobs being created are poorly paid.

She said: “The combination of rising employment and falling pay growth suggests the economy is very good at creating low-paid jobs, but struggling to create the better-paid work we need for a fair and sustainable recovery.

“Self-employment has been responsible for almost half of the rise in employment over the last year. The fact that self-employed workers generally earn less than employees means our pay crisis is even deeper than previously thought, as their pay is not recorded in official figures.

“Falling unemployment is always welcome – particularly for young people who are finally starting to find work – but unless the quality of job creation increases Britain’s living standards crisis will continue and people will be locked out of the benefits of recovery.”