Part-timers and the young bear brunt of job losses

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UK unemployment has risen to a 17-year high and a record number of part-time jobs have been lost, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics covering the period from June to August this year.

They show the number of unemployed now stands at 2.57 million, up 114,000, with young people particularly affected. Some 21.3%of people aged 16 to 24 are unemployed. Around 175,000 part-time workers lost their jobs over the summer.

The number of people out of work and claiming benefits rose by 17,500 to 1.6 million in September.

The Government says that more jobs had been created in the private sector than had been lost in the public sector over the past year.

Ian Brinkley, centre director at The Work Foundation, said: “The labour market figures released this morning are very troubling. The fall in employment of 180,000 in a single quarter is comparable to the quarterly losses seen during the depths of the last recession.

“Unemployment among young people between the ages of 18 and 24 is increasing twice as fast as for the workforce as a whole and there has been a dramatic increase in long-term youth unemployment.

“The main mitigating factor in today’s figures is that total hours worked has remained stable, with most of the job losses being part-time. People still in work seem to be increasing their hours at the same time as the workforce contracts.”

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “These labour market figures are truly horrific, with the economy shedding almost 15,000 jobs each week between June and August. The quarterly rise in unemployment is reminiscent of an economy in recession rather than any kind of recovery and confirms that the private sector just isn’t creating enough jobs at present to offset public sector job cuts.

“With 5.6 unemployed people for every job vacancy the labour market is back to where it was in the depths of recession in 2009 and the underlying problem is getting even worse given that 1 in 3 unemployed people have now been without work for over a year. Many more months like this and we’re likely to see the re-emergence of the kind of ‘Gissa Job’ economy that scarred Britain in the 1980s and 1990s.

“As the CIPD expected, youth unemployment didn’t rise by the 85,000 figure required to take the total above 1 million by the end of August. However, given the background deterioration in the labour market we now expect that milestone to be reached next month.”

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