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The number of unemployed people rose by 46,000 in the three months to December and stands at 4.4%, according to the latest figures from Office for National Statistics.
Women made up for 35,000 of the 46,000 additional unemployed. There were marked increases in unemployment in Wales, Scotland and the East, but falls in other regions.
Dr Carole Easton, chief executive of the Young Women’s Trust, said: “The increase in unemployment we can see today has been driven by young women being out of work.
“21,000 more young women are now unemployed – a dramatic increase on the last quarter. Young women’s unemployment is now at its highest level since summer 2016. We should see this as a warning sign.
“Young women are telling us they want to work but hundreds of thousands are getting shut out of the jobs market, including by employer discrimination, low pay and unaffordable childcare.”
Despite the rise in unemployment, the figures show the number of employed people, particularly in full-time jobs, is also up, with the number of people not working and not seeking or available to work, such as stay at home parents and carers, falling by 109,000 on numbers for the summer period.
The ONS says that between October and December there were 32.15 million people in work, 88,000 more than for July to September 2017 and 321,000 more than for a year earlier. The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 75.2%, higher than for a year earlier (74.6%).
That included 901,000 people who were employed on “zero-hours contracts” in their main job – this number is little changed compared with a year earlier. The number of people who were employed rose, while those who were self employed fell by 18,000. The number of private sector employees fell by 75,000, while public sector workers rose.
The ONS said latest estimates show that average weekly earnings for employees in Great Britain in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.5%, both including and excluding bonuses compared with a year earlier. However, when adjusted for price inflation, average weekly earnings fell by 0.3%, both including and excluding bonuses compared with a year earlier.