Unemployment falling slightly

Unemployment fell slightly in the three months to May as private sector jobs picked up, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment fell slightly in the three months to May as private sector jobs picked up, according to the Office for National Statistics.

However, most redundancies occurred among women.

The ONS says the unemployment rate for the three months to May 2011 was 7.7 per cent, down 0.1 on the quarter. The total number of unemployed people fell by 26,000 over the quarter to reach 2.45 million, mainly due to a fall in unemployment among young people and in long-term unemployment since the number of people unemployed for up to one year increased by 11,000 over the quarter to reach 1.64 million. 

The number of employees and self-employed people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 80,000 on the quarter to reach 1.25 million, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992.

In the three months to May 2011, 144,000 people had become redundant in the three months before the Labour Force Survey interviews, up 16,000 over the quarter. This increase in redundancies occurred mainly among women.

The ONS figures for June show an increase of 9,500 women claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. Some 493,900 women are now claiming JSA,  the highest figure since August 1996.

Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development has revised down its projected peak figures for unemployment from 9.5 per cent to 8.7 per cent in mid-2012, but has also revised down economic growth from 1.6 per cent in 2011 to 1.4 per cent.

Dr John Philpott, the CIPD’s Chief Economic Adviser, said: “Just as pay freezes and pay cuts protected jobs in the recession, the ongoing pay squeeze is helping our anaemic economy support employment. This is clearly preferable to a further very sharp rise in unemployment. But a combination of falling real wages and the likelihood of unemployment well above the pre-recession level for several years to come represents an equivalent amount of labour market distress.

“While the specific labour market symptoms of economic austerity are different than initially expected the ongoing pain is no less severe as the UK workforce continues to suffer an implicit trade-off between jobs and real living standards. In this respect one must hope that the Coalition Government will not stick rigidly to its existing ‘Plan A’ for fiscal deficit reduction if much weaker economic growth makes the trade-off ever harder to bear.”

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