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Statistical bulletin: Labour Market Statistics, April 2012 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 18 April 2012 Download PDF

For December 2011 to February 2012:

  • The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 70.4 per cent, up 0.1 on the quarter. There were 29.17 million people in employment aged 16 and over, up 53,000 on the quarter.
  • The unemployment rate was 8.3 per cent of the economically active population, down 0.1 on the quarter. There were 2.65 million unemployed people, down 35,000 on the quarter. This is the first quarterly fall in unemployment since the three months to May 2011.
  • The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 23.1 per cent, down 0.1 on the quarter. There were 9.27 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, down 25,000 on the quarter.
  • Total pay (including bonuses) rose by 1.1 per cent on a year earlier, down 0.2 on the three months to January 2012. Regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.6 per cent on a year earlier, unchanged on the three months to January 2012.

In this Bulletin

This Statistical Bulletin contains the latest estimates for employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, claimant count, average earnings, labour productivity, vacancies and labour disputes. The estimates are used by a wide range of users, particular across government and the media, to monitor developments in the labour market. All estimates discussed in this Statistical Bulletin are seasonally adjusted except where otherwise stated. The Statistical Bulletin is accompanied by data tables in spreadsheet format.

Regional estimates are available from the Regional Labour Market Statistical Bulletin.

New this month:

Labour Force Survey and Average Weekly Earnings estimates for December 2011 to February 2012
Claimant count estimates for March 2012
Vacancies estimates for January to March 2012
Labour disputes estimates for February 2012

In this Bulletin, estimates sourced from the Labour Force Survey for the three month period December 2011 to February 2012 are compared with estimates for September-November 2011.

There have been revisions to the seasonally adjusted estimates of claimant count levels back to January 2009 following the latest annual review of the seasonal adjustment process. See Background Notes for further details.

Summary of labour market statistics published on 18 April 2012

A video explaining this story is available on the ONS YouTube channel.

Between September-November 2011 and December-February 2012, unemployment and economic inactivity fell and employment increased.

The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the three months to February 2012 was 70.4 per cent, up 0.1 on the quarter. The number of people in employment aged 16 and over increased by 53,000 on the quarter but fell by 57,000 on the year to reach 29.17 million. The number of part-time workers increased by 80,000 on the quarter to reach 7.94 million but the number of full-time workers fell by 27,000 to reach 21.23 million. The number of employees and self-employed people who were working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 89,000 on the quarter to reach 1.40 million, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992.

The unemployment rate for the three months to February 2012 was 8.3 per cent of the economically active population, down 0.1 on the quarter. The total number of unemployed people fell by 35,000 over the quarter to reach 2.65 million. These are the first quarterly falls in the unemployment level and rate since March-May 2011. The number of unemployed men fell by 43,000 to reach 1.51 million but the number of unemployed women increased by 8,000 to reach 1.14 million, the highest figure since the three months to November 1987. The number of people unemployed for up to twelve months fell by 61,000 on the quarter to reach 1.77 million, but the number of people unemployed for over 12 months increased by 26,000 to reach 883,000, the highest figure since the three months to September 1996.

The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the three months to February 2012 was 23.1 per cent, down 0.1 on the quarter.  The number of economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64 fell by 25,000 over the quarter to reach 9.27 million. This quarterly fall in economic inactivity was mainly due to a fall of 61,000 in the number of retired people below the age of 65 to reach 1.47 million, the lowest figure since the three months to November 2007.

There were 1.61 million people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in March 2012, up 3,600 on February. The number of people claiming JSA for up to six months fell by 13,100 on the month to reach 893,800. This series has now fallen for nine consecutive months and it has decreased by 81,600 since March 2011.

The whole economy earnings annual growth rate for total pay was 1.1 per cent in the three months to February 2012, down 0.2 on the three months to January 2012. Bonus payments were lower in January and February 2012 than in the first two months of 2011, particularly in the finance and business services sector. The annual growth rate for total private sector pay fell from 1.6 per cent to 1.2 per cent. The annual growth rates for the total public sector, and for the public sector excluding financial corporations, fell to record lows (since comparable records began in 2001) of 1.1 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively. However, in February 2012, average weekly pay for the private sector (£459 per week) was lower than the total public sector (£477 per week) and the public sector excluding financial corporations (£467 per week).

Employment

Employment measures the number of people in paid work and differs from the number of jobs because some people have more than one job. A comparison between estimates of employment and jobs is available in an comparison of estimates article published on the website on 14 March 2012. The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 70.4 per cent in the three months to February 2012, up 0.1 percentage point on the three months to November 2011 but down 0.3 from a year earlier.

Employment rate (aged 16 to 64), seasonally adjusted

Employment rate, April 2012
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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The employment rate for men aged from 16 to 64 was 75.5 per cent, up 0.4 percentage points on the previous quarter. The corresponding employment rate for women was 65.3 per cent, down 0.1 on the previous quarter.

The number of people in employment was 29.17 million in the three months to February 2012, up 53,000 from the three months to November 2011 but down 57,000 on a year earlier. The number of people in full-time employment was 21.23 million in the three months to February 2012, down 27,000 from the three months to November 2011. Of this total, 13.57 million were men and 7.67 million were women. The number of people in part-time employment was 7.94 million in the three months to February 2012, up 80,000 from the three months to November 2011. Of this total, 2.07 million were men and 5.86 million were women.

The number of people employed in the public sector was 5.94 million in December 2011, down 37,000 from September 2011. The number of people employed in the private sector in December 2011 was 23.17 million, up 45,000 from September 2011. Further information on public sector employment is available in the Public Sector Employment Statistical Bulletin published on 14 March 2012.

Employment by country of birth and nationality (not seasonally adjusted)

ONS publishes estimates of employment by both country of birth and by nationality. The number of  non-UK born people in employment is greater than the number of non-UK nationals in employment, as the non-UK born series includes many UK nationals. The estimates relate to the number of people in employment rather than the number of jobs. These statistics have sometimes been incorrectly interpreted as indicating the proportion of new jobs that are taken by foreign migrants.

The number of UK nationals in employment was 26.61 million in the three months to December 2011, down 166,000 on a year earlier. The number of non-UK nationals in employment was 2.58 million, up 166,000 from a year earlier.
 
The employment rate for UK nationals aged from 16 to 64 was 70.8 per cent in the three months to December 2011, down 0.1 percentage point on a year earlier. The corresponding employment rate for non-UK nationals was 67.4 per cent, down 0.5 percentage points on a year earlier.

The number of UK born people in employment was 25.07 million in the three months to December 2011, down 208,000 on a year earlier. The number of non-UK born people in employment was 4.12 million, up 212,000 from a year earlier.
 
The employment rate for UK born people aged from 16 to 64 was 71.3 per cent in the three months to December 2011, virtually unchanged on a year earlier. The corresponding employment rate for non-UK born people was 66.4 per cent, down 1.0 percentage point on a year earlier.

Employment by country of birth and nationality, changes on year (not seasonally adjusted)

Employment by country of birth and nationality
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Actual hours worked

Actual hours worked measures the number of hours worked in the economy. Total hours worked per week were 928.8 million in the three months to February 2012, up 12.5 million from the three months to November 2011. Average weekly hours worked in the three months to February 2012 were 31.8, up 0.3 from the three months to November 2011.

Total weekly hours worked, seasonally adjusted

Hours worked, April 2012
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Earnings

Earnings measures the money received in return for work done, gross of tax. The estimates relate to Great Britain and include salaries but not unearned income, benefits in kind or arrears of pay. Average total pay (including bonuses) was £462 per week in February 2012. In the three months to February 2012 total pay rose by 1.1 per cent on a year earlier, down 0.2 from the three months to January. Average regular pay (excluding bonuses) was £439 per week in February 2012. In the three months to February 2012 regular pay rose by 1.6 per cent on a year earlier, unchanged from the three months to January.

GB whole economy average earnings annual growth rates, seasonally adjusted

Earnings, April 2012
Source: Monthly Wages and Salaries Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Average total pay (including bonuses) in the private sector was £459 per week in February 2012. In the three months to February 2012 total pay in the private sector rose by 1.2 per cent on a year earlier. Average regular pay (excluding bonuses) in the private sector was £430 per week in February 2012. In the three months to February 2012 regular pay in the private sector rose by 1.9 per cent on a year earlier.

Average total pay (including bonuses) in the public sector was £477 per week in February 2012. In the three months to February 2012 total pay in the public sector rose by 1.1 per cent on a year earlier. Average total pay in the public sector, excluding financial services, was £467 per week in February 2012. In the three months to February 2012 total pay in the public sector, excluding financial services, rose by 0.6 per cent on a year earlier. Average regular pay (excluding bonuses) in the public sector was £473 per week in February 2012. In the three months to February 2012 regular pay in the public sector rose by 1.1 per cent on a year earlier. Average regular pay in the public sector, excluding financial services, was £465 per week in February 2012. In the three months to February 2012 regular pay in the public sector, excluding financial services, rose by 0.6 per cent on a year earlier.

Labour productivity

Labour productivity measures the amount of real (inflation adjusted) economic output that is produced by a unit of labour input (in terms of workers, jobs and hours worked). Whole economy output per worker fell by 0.5 per cent between the third and fourth quarters of 2011. Whole economy unit labour costs increased by 1.2 per cent between these quarters. Further information is available in the Labour Productivity Statistical Bulletin published on 29 March 2012.

Outut per worker and unit labour costs, percentage change on quarter (seasonally adjusted)

Labour productivity, April 2012
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Labour disputes (not seasonally adjusted)

These estimates measure disputes (ie, strikes) connected with terms and conditions of employment. In February 2012, there were 5,000 working days lost from nine stoppages. In the twelve months to February 2012, there were 1.40 million working days lost from 135 stoppages.

Working days lost cumulative 12 month totals, not seasonally adjusted

Labour disputes, April 2012
Source: Labour Disputes Statistics - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. There was a one day strike on 30 November 2011 called by several trade unions in connection with a dispute over proposed changes to pension schemes for some public sector workers.
  2. Estimates of working days lost for the dispute mentioned in Note 1 do not include days lost due to people unable to attend work due to industrial action taken by others.

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Unemployment

Unemployment measures people without a job who have been actively seeking work and are available to start work if a job is offered. The unemployment rate was 8.3 per cent in the three months to February 2012, down 0.1 percentage point from the three months to November 2011 but up 0.5 from a year earlier. Unemployment rates are calculated, in accordance with international guidelines, as the number of unemployed people divided by the economically active population (defined as those in employment plus those who are unemployed).

Unemployment rate (aged 16+), seasonally adjusted

Unemployment rate, April 2012
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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The number of unemployed people was 2.65 million in the three months to February 2012, down 35,000 from the three months to November 2011 but up 172,000 from a year earlier. The number of unemployed men was 1.51 million in the three months to February 2012, down 43,000 from the three months to November 2011. The number of unemployed women was 1.14 million in the three months to February 2012, up 8,000 from the three months to November 2011. The number of people unemployed for over one year was 883,000 in the three months to February 2012, up 26,000 from the three months to November 2011.  The number of people unemployed for over two years was 423,000 in the three months to February 2012, down 1,000 from the three months to November 2011.

The unemployment rate for the European Union (EU) was 10.2 per cent of the economically active population in February 2012. The EU country with the highest unemployment rate was Spain, at 23.6 per cent, and the EU country with the lowest unemployment rate was Austria, at 4.2 per cent. The unemployment rate for Japan was 4.5 per cent in February 2012. The unemployment rate for the United States was 8.2 per cent in March 2012.

Young people in the labour market

In the three months to February 2012, there were 3.63 million 16 to 24 years olds in employment, down 13,000 from the three months to November 2011. There were 2.63 million economically inactive 16 to 24 year olds (most of whom were in full-time education), up 12,000 on the three months to November 2011. There were 1.03 million unemployed 16 to 24 year olds, down 9,000 from the three months to November 2011.

The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds was 22.2 per cent in the three months to February 2012, down 0.1 percentage point from the three months to November 2011. In accordance with international guidelines, unemployment rates are calculated as the number of unemployed people divided by the economically active population (defined as those in employment plus those who are unemployed). Movements in youth unemployment rates can therefore be affected by changes to the economically active population, which can result from changes in the number of young people who are economically inactive because they are in full-time education.

In accordance with international guidelines, people in full-time education are included in the youth unemployment estimates if they have been looking for work within the last four weeks and are available to start work within the next two weeks. Excluding people in full-time education, there were 719,000 unemployed 16 to 24 year olds in the three months to February 2012, down 11,000 from the three months to November 2011. The corresponding unemployment rate was 20.5 per cent of the economically active population for 16 to 24 year olds not in full-time education, down 0.2 percentage points from the three months to November 2011.

Youth unemployment (aged 16 to 24) December 2011 to February 2012, seasonally adjusted

Youth unemployment, April 2012
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Claimant count

The claimant count measures the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and differs from unemployment (which measures people who meet the internationally agreed definition of unemployment). The claimant count can be affected by changes to the overall benefits system. For example, from late 2008 until mid-2011 changes in eligibility rules for Lone Parent Income Support resulted in fewer lone parents (predominantly women) being able to claim that benefit resulting in more lone parents claiming JSA while they look for work. From April 2011, the Dept. for Work and Pensions has been re-assessing claimants of Incapacity Benefit (IB) resulting in some people who have been declared ineligible for IB claiming JSA while they look for work. The effect of this exercise on monthly changes in the claimant count is likely to be small.

The claimant count in March 2012 was 1.61 million, up 3,600 on the previous month and up 145,200 on a year earlier. The claimant count rate was 4.9 per cent, unchanged on the previous month but up 0.4 percentage points from a year earlier.

Claimant count, seasonally adjusted

Claimant count, April 2012
Source: Office for National Statistics, Work and Pensions

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Comparison between unemployment and the claimant count

Unemployment is measured using the Labour Force Survey and estimates are published for three month average rolling time periods. Unemployed people in the UK are:

  • without a job, have actively sought work in the last four weeks and are available to start work in the next two weeks or;

  • out of work, have found a job and are waiting to start it in the next two weeks.

People who meet these criteria are classified as unemployed irrespective of whether or not they claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or other benefits.

The claimant count measures the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits: since October 1996 this has been the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). Some JSA claimants will not be classified as unemployed. For example, people in employment working less than 16 hours a week can be eligible to claim JSA depending on their income.

The chart below and the associated spreadsheet compare movements in unemployment and the claimant count for the same three-monthly average time periods. The unemployment estimates shown in this comparison exclude unemployed people in the 16 to 17 and 65 and over age groups as well as unemployed people aged from 18 to 24 in full-time education. This provides a more meaningful comparison with the claimant count than total unemployment because people in these population groups are not usually eligible to claim JSA.

When three-month average estimates for the claimant count are compared with unemployment estimates for the same time periods and for the same population groups (people aged from 18 to 64 excluding 18 to 24 year olds in full-time education), unemployment fell by 33,000 and the claimant count increased by 11,000, between September-November 2011 and December-February 2012.

Quarterly changes in unemployment and the claimant count (aged 18 to 64), seasonally adjusted

Quarterly changes in unemployment and the claimant count, April 2012
Source: Office for National Statistics, Work and Pensions

Notes:

  1. Unemployment estimates are sourced from the Labour Force Survey (a survey of households). The unemployment figures in this chart, and the associated spreadsheet, exclude unemployed people aged from 18 to 24 in full-time education.
  2. Claimant count estimates are sourced from administrative data from Jobcentre Plus (part of the Dept. for Work and Pensions).

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Economic inactivity

Economically inactive people are not in employment but do not meet the internationally accepted definition of unemployment because they have not been seeking work within the last four weeks and/or they are unable to start work within the next two weeks. The economic inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 23.1 per cent in the three months to February 2012, down 0.1 percentage point on the three months to November 2011 and from a year earlier. The number of economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64 fell by 25,000 over the quarter and by 29,000 over the year, to reach 9.27 million in the three months to February 2012.

Economic inactivity rate (aged 16 to 64), seasonally adjusted

Economic inactivity rate, April 2012
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Redundancies

The redundancies estimates measure the number of people who have been made redundant or have taken voluntary redundancy. In the three months to February 2012, 174,000 people had become redundant in the three months before the Labour Force Survey interviews, up 11,000 from the three months to November 2011 and up 47,000 from a year earlier. The redundancy rate was 7.0 per 1,000 employees, up 0.5 on the previous quarter and up 1.9 on a year earlier.

Redundancies, seasonally adjusted

Redundancies, April 2012
Source: Labour Force Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Jobs

Workforce jobs measures the number of filled jobs in the economy. It differs from the number of people in employment as some people have more than one job. A comparison between estimates of employment and jobs is available in an comparison of estimates of jobs article published on the website on 14 March 2012. There were 31.54 million workforce jobs in December 2011, up 123,000 over the quarter and up 295,000 on a year earlier. The sector showing the largest increase in jobs over the quarter was administrative and support service activities which increased by 44,000 to reach 2.49 million.

Workforce jobs changes on quarter between September and December 2011, seasonally adjusted

Jobs
Source: Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. SIC 2007 Section M includes professional, scientific and technical activities and Section N includes administrative and support service activities.
  2. SIC 2007 Section I includes accommodation and food service activities.

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Vacancies

Vacancies are defined as positions for which employers are actively seeking to recruit outside their business or organisation. There were 464,000 job vacancies in the three months to March 2012, unchanged on the three months to December 2011 but down 19,000 on a year earlier. There were 1.8 vacancies per 100 employee jobs in the three months to March 2012, unchanged on the previous quarter but down 0.1 on the year.

Vacancies, seasonally adjusted

Vacancies, April 2012
Source: Vacancy Survey - Office for National Statistics

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Data tables

The Index of Data tables lists all of the regularly published labour market spreadsheets. These spreadsheets can be accessed from hyperlinks within this Index. The pdf version of this Statistical Bulletin includes all of the tables which appeared in the old style Labour Market Statistical Bulletin pdf files as published by ONS before the introduction of the new website on 27 August 2011.

Revisions

One indication of the reliability of the key indicators in this Statistical Bulletin can be obtained by monitoring the size of revisions.  Data tables EMP17 (480 Kb Excel sheet) , UNEM04 (1.42 Mb Excel sheet) , JOBS05 (320 Kb Excel sheet) and CLA04 (1.4 Mb Excel sheet) record the size and pattern of revisions over the last five years. These indicators only report summary measures for revisions. The revised data itself may be subject to sampling or other sources of error. The ONS standard presentation is to show five years worth of revisions (60 observations for a monthly series, 20 for a quarterly series).

Labour market statistics are revised in line with the revisions policy (36.7 Kb Pdf) .

Sampling variability and seasonal adjustment

Sampling variability

Data table A11 (51 Kb Excel sheet) shows sampling variabilities, calculated on not seasonally adjusted data, for the Labour Force Survey. These sampling variability ranges represent '95 per cent confidence intervals'. It is expected that in 95 per cent of samples the range would contain the true value. 

The sampling variability of the three month average vacancies level (95 per cent confidence interval) is around +/- 1.5 per cent of that level.

The sampling variabilities of the whole economy single month Average Weekly Earnings growth rates (95 per cent confidence intervals) are as follows:

+/- 0.6 percentage points excluding bonuses
+/- 0.7 percentage points including bonuses (April to November)
+/- 0.9 percentage points including bonuses (December to March)

Seasonal adjustment

Like many economic indicators, the labour market is affected by factors that tend to occur at around the same time every year; for example school leavers entering the labour market in July and whether Easter falls in March or April. In order to compare movements other than annual changes in labour market statistics, such as since the previous quarter or since the previous month, the data are seasonally adjusted to remove the effects of seasonal factors and the arrangement of the calendar. All estimates discussed in this Statistical Bulletin are seasonally adjusted except where otherwise stated.

Background notes

  1. This month’s Statistical Bulletin
    There have been revisions to the seasonally adjusted claimant count estimates back to January 2009 following the latest annual review of the seasonal adjustment process. The denominators used to calculate national and regional claimant count rates have been routinely updated and revised back to 1996 taking on board revisions to Workforce Jobs estimates. Rates from January 2011 are based on mid-2011 denominators.

    There have been small revisions to the seasonally adjusted estimates of hours worked for November 2011-January 2012 due to the correction of a minor error in the originally published estimates.

  2. There will be revisions to the vacancies series back to the start of the time series in April-June 2001, reflecting a routine review of the quality of the data received from businesses and updating of the seasonal adjustment factors.   

  3. Publication dates for 2012 can be found in the Background Notes to the November 2011 edition of this Statistical Bulletin. A list of the job titles of those given pre-publication access (34.8 Kb Pdf) to the contents of this Statistical Bulletin is available on the website.

  4. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

    The United Kingdom Statistics Authority has designated these statistics as National Statistics, in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

    Designation can be broadly interpreted to mean that the statistics:

    • meet identified user needs;
    • are well explained and readily accessible;
    • are produced according to sound methods; and
    • are managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.

    Once statistics have been designated as National Statistics it is a statutory requirement that the Code of Practice shall continue to be observed.

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Richard Clegg +44 (0)1633 455400 Labour Market Statistics Briefing labour.market@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Nick Palmer +44 (0)1633 455839 Labour Force Survey nicholas.palmer@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Jonathan Knight +44 (0)1633 455253 Claimant Count, Vacancies and Benefits jonathan.knight@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Emily Carless +44 (0)1633 455717 Workforce Jobs and Public Sector Employment emily.carless@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Eric Crane +44 (0)1633 455092 Average Weekly Earnings eric.crane@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Mark Franklin +44 (0)1633 455981 Labour Productivity mark.franklin@ons.gsi.gov.uk
James Scruton +44 (0)1633 456724 Labour Disputes james.scruton@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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