One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
East: Unemployment Falls Again
Figures out this morning show that unemployment in the East of England fell by 1,000 in the three months to December.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that a total of 180,000 people were unemployed in the region between October and December.
The region's unemployment rate was 5.7% and it saw a fall of 0.6% during the period. The worst area in the UK was the South West which recorded a 3,000 increase in the number of people without a job.
The new figures also show that unemployment nationally has continued to fall and a record number of women are in work.
The jobless total was 2.34 million in the final quarter of last year, down by 125,000, giving a rate of 7.2%, and the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance dipped to 1.22 million in January, down by 27,000 - the 15th consecutive monthly fall.
More women are in work too than at any time since records began in 1971, at just over 14 million.
But 1.4 million people are in part-time jobs because they can't find full-time work, which is a fall of 29,000 over the latest quarter but 46,000 higher than a year ago.
Youth and long-term unemployment have both fallen, but there's been little change in the number of people classed as economically inactive, which has remained just under nine million.
The total includes people on long-term sick leave, students, those looking after a sick relative or those who have given up looking for a job.
Employment now stands at more than 30 million, a rate of 72.1%, which is 0.6% higher than a year ago.
The unemployment rate will remain a key focus, but is no longer linked to the Bank of England's pledge to keep interest rates at record lows after governor Mark Carney unveiled a new forward guidance policy last week.
The Bank had pledged not to consider a rate rise until unemployment fell to 7%, but with that target set to be reached much earlier than expected, the guidance has been replaced.
Average earnings increased by 1.1% in the year to December, 0.2 percentage points up on the previous month, giving average weekly earnings of £478.
The number of people out of work for longer than a year has fallen by 45,000 to 845,000, while 451,000 have been unemployed for over two years, down by 7,000.
There were 917,000 unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in the latest quarter, down by 48,000 on the previous three months.
Job vacancies were up by 28,000 to 580,000, the highest since 2008.
Commenting on the figures for the East of England, Employment Minister Esther McVey said: "With The East of England seeing the second highest employment rate out of the UK regions - 75.7% - it’s clear that the Government’s long-term plan to build a stronger, more secure economy is helping businesses create jobs and get people into work.
"Nationally, employment continues to increase and youth unemployment continues to fall, which means more people have the security of a regular wage and can plan for their future."
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