Unemployment at 17-year high

Unemployment has risen to a 17-year high, with the young particularly badly hit, according to the latest unemployment statistics from the Office for National Statistics.

Unemployment has risen to a 17-year high, with the young particularly badly hit, according to the latest unemployment statistics from the Office for National Statistics.

The employment rate for August to October 2011 for those aged from 16 to 64 was 70.3 per cent, down 0.2 on the previous quarter. The unemployment rate stood at 8.3 per cent, up 0.4 on the previous quarter with 2.64 million people unemployed, up 128,000 on the quarter.

Total pay (including bonuses) rose by 2.0 per cent on 2010, down 0.3 on the three months to September 2011(with both the private and public sectors showing lower pay growth). Regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.8 per cent on a year earlier, up 0.1 on the three months to September 2011.

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: "These pre-festive season jobs figures are so bad even Santa’s elves will be feeling insecure. The quarterly rise of 128,000 in unemployment is itself enough to dampen the spirits, but what’s worse is news that private sector job growth is almost at a standstill while public sector employment is falling at twice the rate projected by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

"The hope that private sector job creation would offset large scale public sector job cuts even in the short-run has proved false and unemployment will continue to climb throughout 2012 regardless of what happens in the eurozone.

"The latest figures continue the pattern seen throughout 2011 with the jobs situation deteriorating for both sexes, but men doing worse than women. This is somewhat surprising given the relatively high proportion of women working in the public sector, though the puzzle becomes a little easier to understand with new data showing that employment is falling sharply again in manufacturing and construction, sectors where most workers are men. If the white collar jobs recession in the public sector is hitting women relatively hard, another blue collar jobs recession in the private sector is making life just as tough for men."

Andrew Sissons, a researcher at the Work Foundation, said: “Unemployment will only stop rising when businesses regain their confidence. That will either require a rapid resolution to the Eurozone crisis, or a decisive signal from government that it is committed to boosting growth in the long-term. The government has made some important steps in this direction over the last month, but it must continue to pursue its growth agenda relentlessly.”





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