Unemployment figures rise

The number of people who are unemployed in the UK has risen to 2.53 million, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

The number of people who are unemployed in the UK has risen to 2.53 million, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

The figures cover the three months to the end of January. They show the jobless rate is now 8% – the highest since 1996. Those most affected were young people – 18.3% of people aged 18 to 24 are now unemployed. However, the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance fell by 10,200 in February. 

Average earnings rose by 2.3%, possibly boosted by bonuses. Average pay was £453 a week.

The figures also showed the number of people in work has risen by 32,000, with more and more 50 to 64 year olds in work. Figures for this age group rose by 25,000. There were 45,000 fewer public sector jobs, with local governments jobs down by 24,000. Employment in the private sector increased by 77,000. However, the number of public sector job cuts is expected to rise significantly over the next months. 

Dr John Philpott, Chief Economic Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: "The headline rise in unemployment suggests that the labour market weakened at the turn of the year, well before the impact of the Coalition Government’s spending cuts and tax rises start to take full effect. Indeed, figures showing that public sector employment had already fallen by 123,000 in the year to December 2010 suggest that the eventual cull of public sector jobs by 2015 could be considerably higher than current Office for Budget Responsibility estimates suggests. However, figures showing more people in work in the private sector, including in manufacturing, and fewer on welfare benefits offers hope that the labour market might withstand the economic headwinds better than previously expected.

"On balance the latest jobs figures probably offer more to the optimist than the pessimist, and indicate that the labour market is nowhere near suffering any kind of meltdown." 





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