Unemployment in Britain fell to 4.6 percent last month, the lowest level in nearly two decades.

The government reported Wednesday that the number of people claiming welfare dropped by 16,400 to 1.3 million, bringing the percentage of claimants down to the lowest level since June 1980. Unemployment stood at 4.7 percent in July.Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose north England parliamentary district has been hit by closures of two electronic component plants, said there was nothing his Labor Party government could do about the effects of world economic upheaval.

"We can't, as a government, do much about the twists and turns of world markets in an increasingly globalized economy," Blair said, during a visit to his constituency, Sedgefield.