In the bank’s Report on Jobs, all UK regions except Northern Ireland posted reduced claimant numbers in December; 12,100 lower than in November and down 40,500 from December 2011.
The report said: “Notably, this was the largest annual decline in 20 months. That said, the unemployment rate remained at 4.8% for the sixth successive month in December.
“The South East and South West posted the lowest unemployment rates at the end of 2012 at 3.0% and 3.2% respectively.”
Permanent staff placements increased further during January, with the latest rise strong, albeit the weakest in three months.
Average starting salaries for permanent staff rose strongly in January but the rate of inflation has been noted as the fastest since last May.
According to the report, demand for permanent staff rose solidly at the start of the year, but the latest increase was the weakest in four months.